Ecology in Catholic formation
By Fr. Philip Lazatin
FABC Commission on Clergy
Hua Hin, Thailand, 8 November 2019 -- During the 3 day Seminar on 'AWAKENING CLIMATE CHANGE CONCERN IN SEMINARIES" (5-7 November) at the Salesian Retreat House in Hua Hin (Thailand), among the 40 participants were also four Salesians of Don Bosco: Bishop Joseph Prathan (Thailand), Fr. Philip Lazatin (FIN), Fr. Anthony Boonlert (THA) and Br. Tony Hopida (FIS).
At the end of the rich sharing and input, the participants published the 'FINAL STATEMENT':
"Deeply conscious of her mandate to incarnate the mission of Christ today, the Church recognizes that it is an integral part of her duty to respond to the climate emergency humanity faces today. With this in mind, the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC) Office of Clergy and Office of Human Development at Salesian Retreat House, Hua Hin, Thailand focussed on the topic ‘Awakening Climate Change Concern in Seminaries’. We, the participants at this Conference consisting of 6 bishops, 26 priests, 1 religious brother and 8 lay people coming from 10 different countries (Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Hongkong, Vietnam) as well as the engagement of social media viewers realize that the priests of tomorrow will be key agents in the struggle for a sustainable world. To equip them for this mission, we resolve to offer an integral formation to enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and behaviour patterns.
"We commit ourselves to introduce in Seminary formation a course on Eco-theology combining the latest findings of science with Christian teaching and praxis. The duration of this course and its integration into the existing cycle of studies will be determined by local conditions.
"To foster an on-going ecological conversion, we resolve to inculcate in formators, seminarians and seminary staff a spirituality that embraces a grateful contemplation of God’s creation. We will do this by emphasizing our interconnectedness with creation through liturgies, prayer exercises, eco-retreats and moments of quiet communion with nature.
"A course on eco-theology would have no impact if it is not integrated into the very fabric of seminary life. We resolve to collaborate with all Seminary staff to introduce ecological concerns and reflections in other courses. We will also provide guidance so that the seminarians are able to engage in ecological issues during their weekend ministries. Above all, we commit ourselves to promoting a spirit of poverty and simple living in the seminary, starting with our own personal example. We commit to initiate a green audit in our seminary and making our seminaries more eco-friendly.
"To better understand the cry of the earth, it is necessary to also hear the cry of the poor. Women, indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups have suffered the most from climate disasters. Their stories of suffering and courage can contribute much to the formation of priests. We resolve to create opportunities whereby seminarians can be immersed in the reality of the poor and learn from them. This could be in the form of short immersion experiences or longer periods of residence among the poor. Additionally, we will also create opportunities to engage in dialogue with persons of other faiths, learning how their faith traditions inspire their commitment to care for our common home.
"The climate emergency that is around us is also a Kairos moment – through it we are being challenged to fundamentally re-examine the very nature of our relationships and the existing structures of seminary formation. Perhaps the Spirit is beckoning us towards a completely new approach to formation. For the moment, we do not know what this fully entails but we resolve to continue this conversation in honesty and transparency. May the Lord who has opened our hearts to hear the cry of the earth now fill us with the grace to faithfully implement all that He is calling us to do."
Rich materials are available online: Live streaming of the Seminar talks on the Facebook - 'RADIO MARIA' https://www.facebook.com/groups/776077925738401/wp/419484225381029/?av=100004363290098
FABC seminar basic materials on the Boscolink:https://www.bosco.link/ym/52363
There can be no justice for the poor of the earth without respect, love and care for the Earth itself. Justice and ecology cannot be separated. Both are essential dimensions of DISCIPLESHIP in the twenty-first century. (cf. A New Earth: The Environmental Challenge (Sydney: Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, 2002)