St. Francis Day. The Feast of St. Francis is celebrated on October 4 in the Catholic Calendar. Francis, a 13th century mystic and founder of the Franciscans was especially aware of the care of creation is considered the patron of the environment. Iona celebrated his day as the culmination of the Season of Creation announced by Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew. October 4 marks the conclusion of the season of creation that began on September 1. The Day of Prayer for the Care of the Creation was instituted by Pope Francis in 2015. The Orthodox Church has commemorated the day since 1989.
Iona Ceremony. More than 30 students, faculty and administrators gathered at the ginkgo tree in the campus quad at noon to mark the day. Prayers, petitions, song and meditation preceded the blessing of the animals by Fr. Gerard, OFM, who spoke briefly of the love of Francis for our animal brothers and sisters. After the prayers and readings, the group processed behind Sr. Kathleen Deignan, our presider, accompanied by a lone piper, student Sean Dalgauer, as we made our way to a new planting site.
Plantings. Just behind the East Hall residence hall, we blessed and ceremoniously planted 25 native species to serve as a nourishing pathway for our local pollinators while simultaneously beautifying that section of the campus. We are most grateful to all who assisted in this ceremony and planting – especially the students whose enthusiasm continues to bring needed hope to these efforts. We thank IC Green for co-sponsoring. We thank the Iona Facilities Department and Mr. Michael O’Connell for their invaluable assistance. We intend this gathering and planting to be an annual event and invite all to join us next year on October 4, St. Francis Day!
Pope and Patriarch. The Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, marked on September 1, has special importance in this its third year. It is a joint message which was released on September 1 from Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who for the first time are writing together on themes of the day, inviting all the faithful and people of good will to prayer and to reflect on how to live in a simple and solid manner, responsibly using earthly goods.
From the joint message of Pope and Patriarch:
…At first, as we read in Genesis, “no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground” (2:5). The earth was entrusted to us as a sublime gift and legacy, for which all of us share responsibility until, “in the end”, all things in heaven and on earth will be restored in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10). Our human dignity and welfare are deeply connected to our care for the whole of creation.
However, “in the meantime," the history of the world presents a very different context. It reveals a morally decaying scenario where our attitude and behaviour towards creation obscures our calling as God’s co-operators. Our propensity to interrupt the world’s delicate and balanced ecosystems, our insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet’s limited resources, and our greed for limitless profit in markets – all these have alienated us from the original purpose of creation.