Orla Davin Carroll – Balally Parish Environment Group
A few words about why we, in Balally, set up a Parish environment group and what our group does.
Seven years ago a small group of parishioners came together to give expression to our growing concern that the future of our planet is under threat because of the way we human beings have abused and continue to abuse our common home, the earth.
The visible effects of this abuse becomes more and more evident in climate change, in the terrible floods and droughts, which are already devastating the lives of some of the poorest people of our world, the people who in fact have contributed least to the problem.
With this in mind, and wishing to take seriously the slogan ‘Think globally, act locally’,we formed a small environment group in our parish in Balally.
We started by attempting to make ourselves and our fellow parishioners more aware of our christian duty to cherish the gift of creation and to acknowledge that we need to make changes in our own lifestyles in order to preserve our earth for future generations and ensure climate justice for all citizens of the world today.
What does our group do?
In the area of liturgy:
- We organise special liturgies : such as a candlelight vigil for Earth Hour every March
- we organise environmentally themed Masses for special occasions ie for the reception of the Climate Justice Candle and for the presentation of the Eco Award, and at other appropriate times of the year- i.e for Earth Day, or during Creationtide every Autumn.
- Occasionally we have also celebrated ecumenical services with our neighbouring Christian churches.
- We regularly contribute environmentally themed prayers to be included in the Prayers of the Faithful of our own Sunday masses.
- Twice yearly, in Spring and Autumn, we prepare posters for display in the church to encourage people to appreciate, care for and enjoy our own local environment.
- Every spring we have a ‘Plant a Bulb’ day – when we distribute spring bulbs to the congregation after Sunday mass, encouraging people to plant them at home or in a flower bed in the church grounds – a simple symbol to remind us to nurture the earth and to appreciate the beauty of God’s earth.
- Two years ago we organised a planting project in the church grounds with children from the parish school and afterwards we presented the children who took part with colourful certificates to record their participation and encourage their pride in their own environment.
- On another occasion we invited the environmentalist /broadcaster Eanna Ni Lamhna to give a talk ‘Treading lightly on our Earth’ after one of our creation liturgies and there was a lively Q and A session afterwards.
On the practical side,
- we print environmental information, practical tips and notice of events in our weekly parish leaflet.
- we have a collection point for used batteries and stamps in the church porch.
- A member of our group was involved with the Parish Pastoral Council in planning the design of our new pastoral centre which is heated by means of solar panels.
- The pastoral centre uses FairTrade products and the cafe serves Fairtrade tea and coffee.
- Help from Eco-Congregation – In many of our efforts- especially in preparing and giving notice of liturgies – we have been helped by the support and resources of Eco-Congregation Ireland. And last year, we were delighted to receive an eco-award from Eco-Congregation .
In all our endeavours, invaluable encouragement came from our Parish Priest, Mgr.Dermot Lane. Fr. Lane has a long history of writing and speaking on the issue of care for the earth and has been a great source of inspiration and encouragement to our group.
To mark the the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment Laudato Si, our group was delighted to help in a two-day conference on the encyclical which Fr. Lane organised. Click here for information on this.
In Laudato Si Pope Francis reminds us very emphatically that care for the earth is an integral part of our Christian mission. Forming a parish environment group, we feel, has helped us, in a small way at least, to put that Christian mission into practice whilst at the same time deepening our appreciation of God’s gift of Creation.