Catholics across Sydney braved the weekend deluge to attend the Archdiocesan Social Justice Gathering at St Columba’s parish in Leichhardt North.
“It’s around one year since the papal encyclical Laudato Si’ was released,” says Fr Peter Smith, Promoter of Justice and Peace, “and I just think it set each and every person of good will a personal challenge to do better. We came here today to respond to that challenge together, as a family.”
With the theme of Caring for creation, caring for our common home, the gathering was held on the eve of World Environment Day, the international ‘people’s day’ to encourage reflection and action to take care of the Earth.
It focused on how Catholics can make a difference, with parishioners exploring options such as community gardening, social enterprises, building local teams and advocating on behalf of the voiceless in our community.
“We went back to basics, to look at Laudato Si’ from a practical perspective,” said Fr Peter.
Many who attended are already actively supporting the social justice work in their parishes and local communities.
Tim Sheil, pastoral co-ordinator, said parishioners from Paddington and Edgecliff parishes work directly with Franciscan programs like House of Welcome and also with other parishes on projects like St Canice’s Kitchen in Elizabeth Bay.
Other attendees are working towards making their parishes sustainable, creating permaculture gardens or starting social justice works in their parishes.
A regular event on the archdiocesan calendar, the gathering is a positive and enriching experience for many Catholics.
“I came home energised and more deeply committed to living the Gospel more authentically,” one attendee told The Catholic Weekly.
Featured speakers included Jacqui Remond, director of Catholic Earthcare Australia, Reece Proudfoot, manager of Community Organising, World Wildlife Fund Australia, Simon Habel, program manager, Catholic Earthcare Australia, and John Manouk, director of Community Services, CatholicCare Parramatta.
To find out more information about social justice within the archdiocese, visit justiceandpeace.org.au