Following through on the Laudato Si’ formation for staff at St Aloysius College in Malta aimed at deepening the understanding of the values of Laudato Si’, the eight-session formation activity called Living Laudato Si’ was initiated and I was invited to lead one of the recent sessions.
The session, open to all staff to explore more deeply the call to care for our common home, was an opportunity to focus on the last two chapters of Laudato Si’ where the call to action is outlined. It was also an opportunity to reflect on the journey already undertaken by the St Aloysius community who are developing a green policy and is a green flag school in the Eco-Schools program.
What does Living Laudato Si’ look like within our Jesuit schools? I described a “sustainable school” as: a) working towards ecological sustainability by reducing its ecological impact; b) fostering lifelong environmental citizenship among students and teachers; and c) encouraging the local community to join in its commitment to ecological sustainability.
The session was an opportunity to reflect on the Jesuit writings that assist the journey to Living Laudato Si’. Our Environmental Way of Proceeding from the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP)-Reconciliation with Creation provides a framework to guide the approach in integrating social justice and natural ecology and is intended to deepen the response to the challenge of reconciliation with creation in our lives and institutes:
- We acknowledge God as Creator of all life and find some quiet moment each day to appreciate this with gratitude.
- We as an apostolic body seek to reflect and speak of what we experience and discern of our relationship with and responsibility for the natural systems.
- We recognize that the children we see today inherit this living world and as we choose to sustain it by finding God at work in all things, we humbly work with young people.
- We seek to reach out in hope to the poor who are increasingly losing their livelihoods and ecological sustainability and incorporate their concerns in our care for the web of life.
- We support good actions in contemporary culture and explore needed alternatives with decision; we partner with others broadening our capacity to transform environmental attitudes and relations.
- We seek the greater good of finding how people can work with the gifts of creation; we live life as a mission, to heal and share with others the fullness of life.
- We accept the challenge of living sustainably in the world.
The last “way of proceeding” is accepting the challenge to live sustainably in the world and gives school communities the challenge to become sustainable organisations.
I shared 10 tips to help schools become sustainable organisations as developed from my experiences in working with many schools, including Jesuit schools, across Australia:
- Leadership – be ambitious, what is the message from the top?
- Small steps – make it manageable and fun.
- Use the green calendar and outside organisations – get help.
- Create a green team – support each other.
- Create a vision, goals, targets, plans and indicators – what is success?
- Know your footprint – if you can measure. you can manage.
- Embed in existing systems – don’t reinvent, use what you have.
- Engage with all = students, staff, parents, and community.
- Communicate your journey – brand and broadcast.
- Celebrate your achievements.
Staff members identified that they“really need to start first and foremost from the leadership of the school.” Leadership became a theme for deeper faith in action and a fun activity undertaken over Zoom was to find the animal mascot for the leadership skills each participant has in sustainability leadership. Many animals were described: spiders, birds, dogs. What are the animals that have leadership traits?
This was an opportunity to show the need to work together using different skills and not just relying on one person. It is up to all to make sure the world is a safe, just, clean, and viable for future generations.
St Aloysius teachers have begun the journey to link, learn, and share to co-create a sustainable school in the Jesuit tradition. The call to continue sharing across the Ecojesuit network has begun and Ecojesuit is sending out the challenge for Jesuit schools to find ways to participate in COP26 in November and can check out the Ecojesuit COP26 website.
Sue Martin is the Reconciliation with Creation Project Officer and Coordinator of Being with God in Nature Ministry at the Australian Province of the Society of Jesus. She also serves as Assistant Coordinator for the JCAP Reconciliation with Creation, a member of the Ecojesuit (GIAN-Ecology) network, and member of the Advisory Council of the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES).
This story is also available in Spanish.