The Annual Faculty Retreat for All Hallows High School convened this year at Iona College on April 5, 2019. Br. Jim Hamilton of All Hallows invited Br. Kevin Cawley to address faculty concerns regarding advocacy and care of Earth. The planning effort led to an extensive presentation on the current state of planetary crisis and a faith-based response. Br. Hamilton and the All Hallows administration hope the school can develop appropriate responses in curriculum and policy for the school community to move effectively as advocates for our Earth's environment. Br. Kevin outlined the current state of our planetary predicament using the Universe Story developed by Thomas Berry and joined this teaching to the recent encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si, On Care For Our Common Home.
Participants met in Arrigoni Center for orientation, Eucharist, light breakfast and Morning Prayer preceding Kevin's remarks. For his presentation, Br. Kevin outlined the planetary predicament, the climate crisis, related deterioration of the global environment, possible responses, current global advocacy efforts (especially the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement), and the timeline remaining for remediation. In addition to his role as Director of the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona, Br. Kevin also serves as Main Representative for the Congregation at the United Nations in New York. These duties allow him a privileged window to the deliberations at the UN and their links to faith – based civil society advocacy. The presentation was aided by images and video which brought a fresh perspective to the faith-based efforts in particular. The Edmund Rice Christian Brothers and other religious groups at the United Nations were active participants in the 3-year deliberations that developed the sustainable development goals. Kevin linked selections from Laudato Si to the public efforts of the UN Agenda 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.
Pope Francis had lent his support to the SDGs with the publication of his encyclical in May of 2015 and his address to the General Assembly on September 25, 2015, the day the Resolution to adopt the SDGs was affirmed by the Assembly. Our April 5 presentation at Iona also related the appreciation of UN officials who were deeply grateful for the advocacy and support of faith-based civil society in the adoption of the Paris Agreement on Climate in December 2015. Particular attention at the All Hallows retreat was given to the recent surge in youth climate activism around the globe, especially in parts of Europe. March 15, 2019, saw over 1 million young people march for climate solutions in 123 cities following the inspiration of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden. The video of Greta's address to the UN Climate Conference in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018, proved unusually compelling for many young people and was a main feature of the presentation delivered on Friday at Iona.
Photos by Kevin Cawley and Jim Hamilton