In Celebration of the Feast of St. Francis


Prayer for Ecological Conversion

God of the sun and the moon, of the mountains, deserts and plains,
God of the mighty oceans, of rivers, lakes and streams
God of all creatures that live in seas and fly in the air
of every living thing that grows and moves on this sacred Earth.
We are formed by Christ into Your People,
called to bring the world into Your marvelous light.
As the Body of Christ, we are messengers of ecological vocation.
We are entrusted with caring for this Earth which You have created.
Help us to love and respect it; to repair what we have damaged;
to care for what You have made good and holy.
Give us the wisdom and the passion to change our minds, our hearts and our ways.
Let us be mustard seeds in our world bringing about ecological conversion which grows and
spreads to every corner of the Earth.
For our sake now and for every generation which is to come.
We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

~Catholic Earthcare Australia, 2002 (used with permission)



Reading #1

Parable of the Mustard Seed ~Mark 4:30-32

“He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

Reading #2

The theme of this program comes from this Pope John XXIII quote: “We are not on earth to guard a museum, but to tend to a flowering garden of life.”

Reading #3

A reading from Laudato Si’ 217

The ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion. Christians all need an “ecological conversion”, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them.

Reading #4

Pope St. John Paul II in his General Audience Address on 17 January 2001 was the first Pontiff to use the term “ecological conversion.” “Unfortunately, if we scan the regions of our planet, we immediately see that humanity has disappointed God’s expectations. Man, especially in our time, has without hesitation devastated wooded plains and valleys, polluted waters, disfigured the earth’s habitat, made the air unbreathable, disturbed the hydrogeological and atmospheric systems, turned luxuriant areas into deserts and undertaken forms of unrestrained industrialization, degrading that “flowerbed” – to use an image from Dante Alighieri (Paradiso, XXII, 151) – which is the earth, our dwelling-place.

We must therefore encourage and support the “ecological conversion” which in recent decades has made humanity more sensitive to the catastrophe to which it has been heading. Man is no longer the Creator’s “steward”, but an autonomous despot, who is finally beginning to understand that he must stop at the edge of the abyss…. At stake, then, is not only a “physical” ecology that is concerned to safeguard the habitat of the various living beings, but also a “human” ecology that makes the existence of creatures more dignified, by protecting the fundamental good of life in all its manifestations and by preparing for future generations an environment more in conformity with the Creator’s plan.”

Reading #6

Elizabeth Johnson, Professor Emerita of Theology at Fordham University and a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph, writes:

“. . . We all share the status of creaturehood; we are all kin in the evolving community of life now under siege; our vision must be one of flourishing for all. The immediate aim is to establish and protect healthy ecosystems where all creatures, including poor human beings and plants and animals being driven to extinction, can thrive. The longer-term goal is a socially just and environmentally sustainable society in which the needs of all people are met and diverse species can prosper, onward to an evolutionary future that will still surprise…. guide us at this critical time of Earth’s distress, to practical and critical effect”: A flourishing humanity on a thriving planet rich in species in an evolving universe, all together filled with the glory of God.”

(Elizabeth Johnson, Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love, Bloomsbury: London, 2014, 1 285-86).


  • What stood out/impacted you in these readings?
  • How does the Parable of the Mustard Seed speak to you as you consider the need to work to ensure that we “cultivate a flowering garden of life” and a “flourishing humanity on a thriving planet rich in species in an evolving universe, all together filled with the glory of God”?
  • What common thread/message do you see in the readings by Pope John XXIII, Pope St. John Paul II, and Pope Francis (in Laudato Si’)?
  • How can people of faith work toward what Prof. Johnson states as our “longer-term goal of “a flourishing humanity on a thriving planet rich in species in an evolving universe, all together filled with the glory of God?”

Click here to view, download and/or print this reflection.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Season of Creation Prayer Service: October 3, 2021

Season of Creation
October 3, 2021


Introductory Comments As we enter the final days of this year’s Season of Creation, our readings invite us to reflect on creation and the sacredness of the bonds that unite us all.  The reading from the second creation myth in Genesis focuses upon God’s sensitive attention to Adam’s loneliness and the special gift of human attraction and bonding that unites care for Earth.  In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us that what God has thus joined together, no human being must separate.

This warning takes on new, more profound, and challenging meaning as we become aware through contemporary science that every creature is actually “joined together” with every other in complex and evolving webs of interdependence.

As we begin, let’s enter into the quiet of our spirits … asking to be more conscious of the webs of interconnected life within which we live … upon which we depend … which invite our care … asking for gratitude and awe … asking to be a part of birthing the New Creation in our times….


!st reading: Genesis 2:18-24 We see God’s sensitive care for the needs of the first human, Adam, formed from the clay of the Earth.

Reflection: It is important to give greater attention to those other living creatures that this passage from Genesis refers to as “tame and wild animals and birds.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps.128:1-6

Response – May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.

Reflection: What blessings have we received today?

2nd  reading:  Hebrews 2:9-11

Reflection: We ought to turn our minds more attentively to what we have been taught so that we do not drift away.

Gospel:  Mark 10:2-16  Like God’s love for us, can we accept where God takes us?  May we trust in God and welcome his reign of love in our lives.

Reflection – A new vision of interconnected and interdependent “family relations” is emerging before our contemplative presence.  It is inviting us to a new level of consciousness and trust.  And it demands a new level of global solidarity for Care of the Earth and all for whom it is home if humans are to have a place in its future evolution.

Music selections – optional

E – Entrance | O – Offertory | C – Communion | D – Dismissal

E- For the Beauty of the Earth Folliet S. Pierpoint

O – Love One Another Feargal King, C 2000 WLP

C- Set Your Heart on the High Gifts, by Stephen C. Warner, C1992 WLP

D-Prayer of Saint Francis St. Francis of Assisi, adapt, Sebastian Temple, C1967 OCP

Please click here to view and download a PDF of this Liturgy Guide

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Art Gives a Voice, Speaking Louder Than Words

Blog by Judy Engel, OPA

“Art is often intended to appeal to, and connect with, human emotion. Artists may express something so that their audience is stimulated in some way—creating feelings, religious faith, curiosity, interest, identification with a group, memories, thoughts, or creativity.” (Google definition)

The Angelico Arts Program for Refugees and Friends operated out of St. Joan of Arc parish in Toronto, Canada for 16 years (1992-2008). It gave refugees a way to begin to share their stories and start to build some relationships with Canadian citizens who could assist them in their resettlement process.

This is my life. It is torn apart.



These three pieces of artwork were done by one female refugee. She was a journalist from Oromo, a province of Ethiopia. There was an active rebel group opposing the oppressive Ethiopian government and she wrote in strong opposition to the government. Consequently, she and her family were targeted by the military and fled to Canada. The captions on each image are her commentary on her art and her life.





This is what happened to my village. It also is what happened to my life.














Now I have hope for my life here. I still feel torn, but I have hope . . .


Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Season Of Creation Prayer Service: September 26, 2021

Season of Creation
September 26, 2021


Introductory Comments

Today is the Fourth Sunday of the 2021 Season of Creation. Today’s readings continue to warn us that our sinfulness is destroying our communities, the human family, and Earth, the supportive and nurturing home of us all. They challenge us to be active and prophetic in working for the New Creation in these times. And they guide us in prayer to ask for greater awareness of our “unknown faults” and of their grave seriousness, to ask for freedom from their destructive power no matter the cost.

A reading from Numbers 11:25-29

Reflection: May God bestow the Spirit on everyone, raising people up around the planet as prophets to speak out now as the destruction and dangers to Earth are escalating so rapidly. How might I/we be prophetic?

Responsorial Psalm  19:8-14

Response: Alleluia

A reading from James 5:1-6

Reflection: This reading from James is a direct condemnation of the rich. It reflects the judgment widespread through the early centuries of Christianity that those who have more than they need are in effect stealing from those who don’t have the basics they need. What can I/we do to end this injustice?

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

Reflection: Will we adopt the necessary measures to stop the devastation of the environment or will we continue denying the evidence? What tangible action can I/we do to stop this devastation?

Music selections: optional

Entrance: All Are Welcome – Marty Haugen, c.1994 GIA Publications, Inc.

Offertory: Here I am, Lord – Daniel L. Schutte, c.1981 OCP

Communion: At the Table of the World – Brian Wren, c.1989 Hope Publishing Co.

Dismissal: Stewards of Earth – Omar Westendorf, c.1984 World Library Publications

Click here to download and print this prayer service.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Stories of Immigration

Blog by Sr. Janice Thome, OP

Why would anyone risk their life and the lives of their children to come to the United States?

The guerillas in their country came to take dad with them. He said he could not kill anyone.  They gave him 24 hours to rethink it.  He would go with them or they would kill him.  They left the country that night.

Mother at her restaurant job witnessed an attempted assassination of a wealthy customer whose bodyguards fought them but some were killed.  Mother knew that witnesses are killed so they cannot testify.  She ran out the back door but one of the assassins followed her.  When he caught up with her he held the gun pointed at her nose for a full 10 minutes.  She prayed that God would save her for the sake of her 3 children.  She doesn’t know why but he went away without killing her.  The couple knew that if he ever saw her she would be dead because he memorized her face.

Their son was born with spina bifida and in their country, that meant he would never go to school and be seen as an invalid all his days.  They came so he could get an education like his brothers and get services that allowed him to be independent.


When the 6-year-old girl next door was gang-raped and left almost dead in the alley, it was the last straw in the rising crime rate in their country.  They wanted to save their 5-year-old daughter from the same fate and their 13-year-old son from being forced into a gang or killed if he resisted.


As a poor woman who was a victim of domestic violence, she knew that in her country she had no recourse.  (In the ‘50s in the US we had no laws either.)  When her husband almost choked her and began hitting their 2-year-old daughter, she began to consider coming to the US to join some of her siblings.  Then her husband threatened to take their daughter and disappear.  She could not bear to think of the abuse their daughter would suffer.


Posted in Peace & Justice Blog