The Holy Family Parish Emerton in the Greater Mount Druitt area in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia recently received two environmental awards for its climate and environmental action commitments. The Five Leaf Eco-Awards, an ecumenical environmental change program for churches and religious organizations, recognized the parish with a Basic Certificate and an Eco-Worship Award.
The double recognition acknowledges the many actions the Holy Family Parish undertook such as establishing an environmental action group, installing solar panels and a water tank, draught sealing, introducing a worm farm and a native garden, and the inclusion of eco-theology quotes in their parish bulletin. Other activities of the parish include:
- Hosting sustainability workshops and education
- Organizing a Lenten carbon fast
- Participating in the Season of Creation and launching their Earth Ministry
- Using a Creation Eucharistic prayer, and
- Creating an environmental walk around the parish.
Sue Martin, Ecology Project Officer with the Australian Province of the Society of Jesus, visited the church to present their awards. She said, “It’s wonderful to see another Catholic parish earn one of these prestigious awards as they live out the spirit of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato Si’ and his recent follow-up, Laudate Deum.” Sue is also an active member of Ecojesuit’s core team and assists the Reconciliation with Creation program of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific, while also helping the River above Asia Oceania Ecclesial Network.
The Five Leaf Eco-Awards has seven categories – three introductory and four advanced – of non-competitive awards that “assists, inspires, and rewards faith communities for taking environmental action and becoming more sustainable in response to God’s call to care for creation.” The awards encourage holistic environmental action in five main areas: buildings, worship, congregation, outreach, and community leadership. To earn an award, churches simply complete actions to fulfill the criteria governing that award category and are then presented with certificates of recognition for their achievement.
The Holy Family Parish Emerton, under the Diocese of Parramatta, is the fourth Catholic church in Australia, and the second in New South Walks, to be recognized by the Five Leaf Eco-Awards.
Parish priest Fr Greg Jacobs SJ, who moves to the Jesuit parish in Brisbane in 2024, said the vibrant, multicultural parish, with incoming parish priest Fr Cao Nguyen SJ, was deeply encouraged by the awards and keen to continue their commitment to care for God’s creation.
This article is an excerpt from the Australian Jesuits.