From Pascal O’Dea:
On Thursday 15th October we had fifty-plus attend the information meeting in Leighlinbridge parish centre, presented by Fr Sean McDonagh, and centred on the papal encyclical Laudato Si’.
Colm Hogan, parish outreach worker with Trocaire, spoke on the experience of climate change in a rural Ethiopian community, and the Trocaire-led response. He also informed us of a community garden in Baltinglass, sponsored by the local parish and drawing input from the cross-generational and wide faith community of Baltinglass.
This was a very appropriate introduction to Fr Sean McDonagh’s insights on Laudato Si’. And to Pope Francis’ call for dialogue between all communities, in a debate encompassing nature, creation and the economic and social activity – involving people of all Faiths and none.
Colm highlighted Trocaire’s petition in anticipation of the upcoming December Paris climate change summit, seeking support for meaningful action by governmental organisations to protect the developing world from the effects of First World-led environmental destruction. Pope Francis’s obvious respect for nature and the environment in the church’s work of proclaiming God’s word was emphasised, and his unique emphasis on a call to dialogue amongst equals was stressed by Fr Sean.
There were telling contributions from the floor, with contributors highlighting the respect and communion with nature experienced by ethnic Maori groups in New Zealand and the equal vision of Laudato Si – and a warm reception for Laudato Si’ from an environmentalist non-believer who especially welcomed the quoted statement from Pope Francis “that atheists too would be welcome in Heaven”. The audience shared on a stimulating and arresting topic with such committed speakers.
Local parish priest Fr Tom Lalor finished the night under the beautiful communal tapestry, a centrepiece of the beautiful parish centre venue. He quoted poet Patrick Kavanagh, author of the poem Primrose!
“And then my day grew dim, I could not see
The primrose that had lighted me to Heaven,
And there was but the shadow of a tree
Ghostly among the stars. The years that pass
Like shadow soldiers never more have given
One moment to see wonders in the grass.”