Top 5 2020 Season of Creation highlights

October 9, 2020

More than 1,300 events, like the one above in early September in Nairobi, were held throughout the ecumenical Season of Creation.

Amid crises that have shaken our world, the global Christian family was awakened to the urgent need to heal our relationships with creation and with each other during the ecumenical Season of Creation.

From 1 September through 4 October, thousands of Christians on six continents united for a time of restoration and hope, a jubilee for our Earth, and discovered radically new ways of living with creation.

More than ever before, the global Christian family united to pray and take action for our common home.

Thousands of people and communities participated in life-giving events, lighting the way for our most vulnerable sisters and brothers, who are searching for hope amidst a pandemic and the worsening climate crisis, among other crises affecting our world.

WATCH: Global Christian family unites for the Season of Creation

Throughout the month-long celebration, signs of such crises were all around us. Fires made worse by the climate crisis raged in North America, destroying entire communities and leaving families to mourn lost loved ones, and worrisome flames in Brazil reached virgin parts of the Amazon.

In the Far North, a recent study reported the rapid crumbling of two crucial glaciers, which, if melted, could raise global sea levels by four feet (1.2 meters).

The East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline. Photo by OxFam.

In Uganda, activists fighting for a cleaner future and standing in solidarity against the proposed East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) were arrested for planning a peaceful demonstration, and in Peru, the son of an environmental leader was killed for protesting against illegal mining and land invasions.

But amid everything, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the global Christian family was united by the Holy Spirit and committed to working for a better tomorrow and caring for our common home like never before since the season started being celebrated in 2003.

Here are the top five highlights for the 2020 Season of Creation.

Pope Francis’ inspiring leadership

As has been the case throughout his seven-year papacy, Pope Francis led the way.

On 1 September, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis started the season for the second consecutive year with a powerful papal message that encouraged Catholics to take action.

He praised and celebrated “faith communities” that are “coming together to create a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world.”

He rejoiced that the “Season of Creation is becoming a truly ecumenical initiative,” and expressed hope that we may “continue to grow in the awareness that we all live in a common home as members of a single family.”

Midway through the season, Pope Francis encouraged all people to connect with creation through contemplation and highlighted the ongoing dangers of the climate emergency, including the melting Arctic glaciers.

“We need to be silent, we need to listen, and we need to contemplate,” he said. “Without contemplation, it is easy to fall prey to an unbalanced and arrogant anthropocentrism, the ‘I’ at the center of everything.”

Throughout the month, Pope Francis also encouraged his social media followers to join him in prayer and action for our common home. More than two dozen times he tweeted messages about the season and ecology to his more than 18 million followers.

On the final day of the season, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology, Pope Francis thanked Christians around the world who spent time during the season caring for God’s creation.

In particular, he highlighted the work of the hundreds of organizations and thousands of communities that make up the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

Catholics everywhere taking action

All over the world, the Spirit spurred thousands of Catholics to pray and take action. Every week, thousands came together from around the world for online webinars, during which experts shared how all of us can advocate for a just transition from fossil fuels throughout the globe.

WATCH: A Just Transition for Asia Pacific and Oceania

Locally, more than 1,300 in-person and online events were held on six continents. To share only about a handful of examples:

Celebrating the launch of Mary Magdalene Garden in South Sudan.

  • 19 young people from the United Kingdom, South Africa, India, Kenya, the Philippines, Singapore, Palestine, and Ecuador started the season with a lively ecumenical prayer service that featured songs and readings from scripture that helped place all participants in the mindset of celebrating God’s creation.
  • In Cape Town, young Christians created a compelling video that encouraged everyone to take action. Among their life-giving suggestions: turn trash into treasure, pick up litter, or create a vegetable garden.
  • During an ecumenical online prayer service hosted by the Archdiocese of Chicago, Christians reflected on this year’s theme: “Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope.”
  • In South Sudan, a group of Catholics and Fr. Tim Galvin launched Mary Magdalene Garden, where they planted mostly fruit trees to help curb food security in the region.
  • In Italy, the Diocese of Assisi led an outdoor ecumenical prayer service in Piandarca, where St. Francis frequently spent time preaching to birds. Catholics, Anglicans, members of the Romanian Orthodox Church, as well as elected officials, all took part.
  • Throughout Latin America, 18 artists from Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Venezuela, and Ecuador teamed up to create 34 drawings about Laudato Si’.
  • Northwest of Nairobi, GCCM Africa led an ecumenical prayer service and was joined by Anglicans, communities that live near the forest, and government officials. After the prayer service, more than 300 trees were planted in Kakamega Forest, where trees had been cut and the forest left bare.

WATCH: Tree-planting participants celebrate by traditional Isukuti dance that is practiced among the Luhya community of western Kenya.

In particular, this year’s Season of Creation saw more and more young people around the world unite for creation and call on others to pray and take action for our common home.

“We call on members of the Body of Christ to join in as we look to recycle, refuse, reuse and repurpose, turning dirt and waste into diamonds,” said Dominique Yon, a Catholic member of the young Christians in Cape Town who encouraged others to come #Together4Creation

Young people all over the world also led by example, participating in climate strikes, both online and in person, and in hope-producing activities, such as river clean-ups and tree plantings that showed their communities that now is the time to step up for creation.

Catholic institutions show the way

More than 240 Catholic partners led their communities in Spirit-filled action. Some partners, such as the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences and the U.S.-based Catholic Climate Covenant, produced resources that helped their networks grow closer to our Creator during this special time of the year.

The FABC published an e-booklet about the life-giving value of water and encouraged its network to take action to protect the vital resource, and the Catholic Climate Covenant sought to bring about ecological conversions through its “Finding God In The Wilderness” resource.

Other partners hosted in-person events that equally sought to bring about meaningful and lasting spiritual change within the thousands of participants.

One Christian family, together

Christians who participated in the Season of Creation represented numerous denominations, but they were focused on one goal: caring for our common home.

Rev. Dr. Rachel Mash is the Environmental Coordinator of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

She compared the global Christian family coming together for the Season of Creation like independent water tributaries of various sizes pouring into one large and mighty river, such as the Amazon.

“Each tributary has a name. But once a tributary has a name that flows into the river, it loses its name . . . that is what gives the river the power,” she said.

During the season, Christian denominations lose their names and become one global Christian family “because we’re flowing into the big river that is the Season of Creation,” she said.

“We become a river that can really begin to wear away mountains and make big, big changes.”

Christians care for creation in Cape Town.

Rev. Dr. Chad Rimmer serves as the Program Executive for Lutheran Theology and Practice at the Lutheran World Federation. He highlighted the power and the significance of the world’s 2.4 billion Christians uniting to care for creation at the same time.

“Sometimes we celebrate Christmas and Easter at different times, but during the Season of Creation, the Body of Christ is in liturgical solidarity. This is a powerful experience of visible unity,” he said.

Christians take part in Season of Creation activities in Mozambique.

The global Christian family comes together to advocate around other issues, such as migration, gender justice, and economic equity, Rimmer noted. But the various Christian denominations have inherent differences around the details of such advocacy work.

That’s not the case with the call to care for creation and advocate for climate justice, he said: the global Christian family is boldly united to seek justice for the most vulnerable among us.

“We know that the kind of ecological conversion that is needed to overcome the anthropocentrism that leads us to sin against creation and future generations begins with the Gospel calling us back to this fundamental cosmic unity, as creation that begins and is sustained in the love of the Creator. For that reason, the call of the Season of Creation is truly an ecumenical initiative in every sense of the word,” he said.

Stand with Pope Francis

As governments around the world weighed economic recovery packages, Pope Francis showed prophetic leadership with his profound prayer intention on the eve of the Season of Creation.

He prayed that the world embrace “sharing,” not “plundering,” and that all people take action to protect God’s gifts “today, not tomorrow, today.”

Since his prayer intention, thousands of Catholics have shown the world that they stand with Pope Francis and agree: a COVID-19 pandemic economic recovery package must embrace sharing, not plundering, the world’s resources.

His leadership on the climate emergency and the COVID-19 pandemic has been unmatched. But he can’t do it alone.

It’s time for the global Catholic community to rally behind his message. Click here to join the thousands of Catholics who are standing with Pope Francis: Sign the Catholic Petition for just action on COVID-19 and the climate emergency.

Gratitude

During the Season of Creation and throughout this Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year, the Holy Spirit has united Catholics around the world to pray and take action for God’s creation throughout the world.

Much work remains to be done to stop the ecological crisis and climate emergency, but the continued commitment and emergence of Catholics around the world coming together to care for our common home inspires hope in all of us.

The Catholic family remains grateful beyond words to God our Creator, Jesus Christ, Pope Francis, and the Holy Spirit.