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Laudato Si’ Animator Martin Davis describes how his Laudato Si’ Circle in Cheltenham, England, is living Laudato Si’ Lent. Commit to leading your community to care for creation by signing up to become a Laudato Si’ Animator. Get started on the training videos that will help you grow as a leader.

For a long while, Laudato Si’ Animators in Cheltenham have formed, less a virtuous, more a virtual Circle, on account of the difficulty of face-to-face encounters. For a regular hour every other Wednesday evening we have, over more than a year, held online Circle meetings, with prayer and sometimes a guest speaker to stimulate discussion and questions. We have also met virtually with our Member of Parliament to lobby him about the major new legislation coming before the UK Parliament affecting migrants and asylum-seekers.

While acknowledging our debt to modern communications technology, this nevertheless means that we have not been out and about, personally helping to support ourselves and others in turning faith into action through the teachings of Pope Francis in Laudato Si’, to take account of the emergencies of climate and ecology that we must all face up to.

So we saw the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions as an opportunity to set about preparing an initiative that we launched after a Sunday Mass in Lent. Circle Members who are Parishioners of Sacred Hearts, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham set up a table displaying subjects touched upon by the encyclical in the Church Hall, where Mass-goers meet for coffee.

For instance, food is appropriate because of the words of St Luke’s Gospel on the 1st Sunday of Lent, describing the temptation of Jesus in the desert. We talked about using our L.O.A.F. acronym: buying food that is Locally produced, Organically grown, Animal friendly or Fairly-traded.

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Another subject is, of course, water: As Laudato Si’ reminds us, “Fresh drinking water is an issue of primary importance, since it is indispensable for human life” (LS28).

Finally, we took on the theme of energy: Pope Francis’ encyclical states that, “The idea of infinite or unlimited growth… is based on… the false notion that an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available” (LS 106). Our displays illustrated the importance of renewable energy and energy conservation.

An announcement was made by our Parish Priest, Fr Mark Moran, and included in the Newsletter. The headline was, ‘Care for Our Common Home in the Parish: The world is God’s loving gift, and… we are called quietly to imitate his generosity in self-sacrifice and good works.’ (Laudato Si’ 220).

Circle members prepared information on the different topics to draw people in, with members on-hand to engage people and answer questions. Alongside displays, including a statue of St Francis, they put together a coloring competition for children, a word search and a quiz, with prizes to be given out on Easter Day.

This is an extension of the Parish’s long-term commitment to issues of justice (especially climate justice) and peace, particularly relevant at this time. The overall aim is to engage parishioners in ways we can renew and live out our Christian calling, and in particular involve children.

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In addition to the Sacred Hearts Hall project, Circle members will be present at St Thomas More’s Church Hall on the other side of Cheltenham, and supportive of the six-part course offered there by our diocesan Department for Adult Education and Evangelisation on Laudato Si’. Jason Charewicz, the Diocesan Caritas and Environmental Officer, will lead the sessions.

The first three parts, called ‘Laudato Si’: Into the Wilderness’, are taking place during Lent. The final three, called ‘Laudato Si’: A New Creation’, will take place during Eastertide. Each session focuses on a single chapter of Laudato Si’, providing an overview and invitation to dive deeper into the sections which call to us specifically. Importantly, this series reaches out to those who have never read Laudato Si’ and want a prayerful introduction, as well as those familiar with it, but seeking a spiritual refreshment and refocus.

Finally, our Clifton Diocese has asked me to contribute a lay person’s video reflection on the readings for one of the 40 days of Lent for their website, which I’m taking as an opportunity to encourage others to Live Laudato Si’!

Join thousands of others who have taken up the call to act in their communities to make a difference and care for our common home: sign up to become a Laudato Si’ Animator and get started on the training videos that will help you grow as a leader.

Watch Martin’s video about how to consider our ecological and climate crises during the Easter holidays: