“We can all do something”
Brian Savoie, center, awards an energy-efficiency matching grant to a Catholic institution in 2018.
Brian Savoie is plenty familiar with Pope Francis and the Catholic Church’s push to solve the climate crisis.
From 2016 to 2019, he served as a volunteer for Creation Care activities with the Archdiocese of Atlanta (USA). Around the time he joined the Laudato Si’ Animator program earlier this year, he started working as the archdiocese’s Sustainability Program Coordinator.
But Savoie gained vital new knowledge through the Laudato Si’ Animator training about caring for creation, and he increased his understanding about how Laudato Si’ is changing lives around the world, not just in the U.S.A.
“Laudato Si’ is very important to me because it is the Pope’s direct call to every human being to take urgent and impactful action to address the environmental problems we have created. We can all do something, and some of us can do a lot,” Savoie said.
“The Pope’s powerful letter and consistent message over time give each of us a chance to ask: If the Pope thinks these problems are so important as to write such a lengthy letter, what should be our response?”
Savoie and thousands of people on six continents responded earlier this year by participating in the Laudato Si’ Animator program, a six-week program that provides free online training in the participant’s language (English, Spanish, Italian, and Polish are available) on the tenets of Laudato Si’ and the need for all of us to urgently act against the climate crisis.
Pope Francis invites us all to help bring Laudato Si’ to life. (photo by Monica de Argentina)
Participants learn from world-renowned experts and enjoy flexible training offerings. Everyone completes the program with a final project that amplifies Laudato Si’.
For his final project, Savoie moved forward the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s response to Laudato Si’ and the climate emergency.
As the world prepared to honor the fifth anniversary of the encyclical during Laudato Si’ Week, 16-24 May, the archdiocese started its “Laudato Si’ Initiative.”
The plan is a five-year effort to help the archdiocese’s 128 parishes and schools implement aspects of the archdiocese’s “Laudato Si’ Action Plan,” which was published in November 2015, only six months after Pope Francis finished writing the landmark document.
Savoie has helped St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in the U.S. bring Laudato Si’ to life.
For his final project, Savoie met with leaders from 12 parishes and/or schools to confirm that they understood what they were signing up and to answer any questions they had about the initiative.
“Knowledgeable commitment up front is critical,” Savoie said.
His meetings will lead to those parishes and schools having a strong start on reducing water and energy usage, he said.
“Over time, there will be much more to this than energy and water usage, but that is the focus right now.”
Savoie eventually will work with the parishes and schools to “conduct energy efficiency audits and water conservation audits, assist in forming/strengthening local Creation Care Teams, and building three-year sustainability improvement plans for each location,” he said.
By completing the project, Savoie is answering a direct call from Pope Francis, who in Laudato Si’ wrote about how “renovating buildings” to improve their “energy efficiency” needs to become more widespread.