Pope Francis’ Encyclical LaudatoSi: On Care for Our Common Home has inspired the world to become more aware of the environment and the changes occurring to the Earth.
Some 32 people including Winnipeg Archbishop Emeritus James Weisgerber and Reverend John Meehan S.J. President of Campion College, August 29, took a four Kilometer hike around the Qu’Appelle Valley’s Echo Lake to contemplate Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter. The seven member organizing committee took turns giving a short reflection on several of the themes contained in the Encyclical. Besides discussing what the Pope had written they also talked local issues specifically those affecting the Calling Lakes of the Qu’Appelle Valley. “We talked about the sewage thing from Regina,” said Marian Grady a member of the organizing committee and one of the walkers, “and some of the issues effecting First Nations people in the valley.”
It was a warm day with the temperature in the low plus 30’s but walkers carried water and stopped often enough to cool down a bit. Bert Pitzel, Regina Archdiocesan Coordinator for Social Justice said he was extremely gratified about the walk. “There was such a solidarity that the people had as we walked together. Nobody was looking at their watches and everybody was sort of anticipating what the next station would bring.” The station sites were located to emphasize the environment; the lake shore, beside a roadway, sites along the pathway.
Trevor Herriot describes himself as a lay person environmentalist and was the catalyst who, along with Pitzel, organized the walk. “This happened the day after I retired from work. Campion College had a gathering to celebrate the release of the Encyclical and we started talking about the thing that we could do and that’s how it started.” Herriot said the walk was very successful. “We talked about our call to the care of Creation as Christians. There was enthusiasm about the talks and responding and lots of talk during the walks between the stations. There was also some good moments as we walked along; seeing Pelicans fly over and looking at the vegetation and landscape.”
The committee is determined that the Encyclical Walk not be a onetime thing. They expect to continue meeting and coming up with ways to engage more dialogue with parishes and other groups. “You could do this in many different landscapes where you find a place that’s very beautiful and full of nature so people living around there can see the human impact that brings up all those themes the Encyclical brings out.” Herriot said following the Gospel doesn’t mean just our human relationships; “It also means our relationships to other creatures who have a right to exist and their own intrinsic value under God’s Creation.”