Following last year’s student conference “Taking Steps to Heal the World”, the Core Team of the European Network of Sacred Heart Schools decided to host a follow up conference. In preparation for this year’s gathering, students and their teachers watched Pope Francis’ Laudato Si film “The Letter: A message for our Earth” about the environmental crisis.
In February, pupils discussed their thoughts and ideas with their peers and teachers. The Coreteam supplied some reflective starter questions to set the ball rolling. Twenty school groups from ten European countries met online on March 8th, 2023, to consider how they could work together to save the world. Sr Paloma Fernandez de la Hoz, RSCJ, spoke to the gathered students on the opportunities presented by Laudato Si. Encouraging them, in their response to the climate crisis, to slow down and watch, to listen, to be at one with nature and to act now, she offered plenty of food for thought.
We had time to pray and to consider how our schools might respond to “The Letter” film. Some students produced short videos about how their surroundings are affected by the climate crisis or on efforts they were making to improve their environment.
The RSCJ JPIC Team, led by Joy Luz RSCJ, kindly hosted the online event, providing live translation. Breakout groups allowed the students to share meaningful engagement. Barbara Andrasch from Sacre Coeur, Vienna, with Noreen Heenan and Vicky Lorenzato of the Coreteam, were facilitators.
Feedback from the conference yielded a range of possible activities and actions for the year ahead. We look forward to hearing of further developments as we embrace the message of “Laudato Si” and Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation.
Watch, Listen, Act
- Designing an A-Z of climate change to increase awareness.
- Updating a school’s website with topics of relevance to climate change.
- Exchanging ideas about outdoor classrooms in schools and how they connect to nature. Art projects using recycled materials in our school gardens.
- Green School/ EcoSchool plans: School water fountains, homes for bees near our schools, wildflower areas, waste segregation, upgrading waste and recycling bins, book sales.
- SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) week in Sacred Heart Schools
- Lobbying of local and national government and councils.
- Spending more time in the natural world.
- Student Councils providing a powerful voice for the student body on issues such as the environment and sustainability.
- Schools acknowledging the importance of students having ' a voice' and that they want their voices to be heard.
- It was a learning experience for them, first and foremost, getting to know about the vision of Pope Francis through the Letter Video, the present situation of our earth and the encouragement to be a voice and agents of change themselves.
- It was a very good exercise that we had to examine ourselves in our locality to see our own situation and what we are actually doing. The students liked the fact that they could communicate in groups.
- In media and language classes, learning how to write reports about the environment to lobby those in authority.
Core Team, European Network of Sacred Heart Schhols