What Is Good Life: Faith Reflection on Creation

A two-day workshop, organised by the Archdiocesan Office for Environment, Mumbai together with the Office of Human Development – Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences was held for Parish Green Teams on 22-23 September 2018 at Sarvodaya in the St Pius Campus at Goregaon, Mumbai. The fifty-four participants represented twenty-one parishes / organisations throughout the Archdiocese of Bombay.

On the first day, Bishop Allwyn D’Silva welcomed the participants and explained that the workshop was being held in connection with the Green Diocese initiative launched on 1st September 2018 in the Archdiocese of Bombay, as well as to take the message of Laudato Si’ – Pope Francis’ encyclical on caring for our common home to the grassroots. Resource person Luke Mendes further elaborated that the sessions that would be held were based on a training booklet being prepared. This booklet would demystify Laudato Si’ and would be first made available to participants and their respective parishes along with supplementary material such as presentations, video clips, etc. on a pen drive once finalised. In the first session, Earth and You, Luke focused on the interconnectedness that exists in nature, and how we must all be partners of nature. In the session on Water, Fr Joseph Gonsalves highlighted the functions and problems related to water and also emphasised that water is alive. Pamela Fernandes conducted the session on Food, in which she shared facts on food insecurity and spoke about abuses and malpractices in food production.

The sessions ‘Air and Health’ and ‘Family and Social Media’ were prepared by Fr Vincent D’Cruz and conducted by Luke, Fr Joseph and Shawna Nemesia Rebello. The pitfalls of the use of air conditioners and indoor air quality were emphasised in the Air session, while the control that media has over family and lifestyles and its subsequent effect on the environment were underscored in the latter session. The next session, presented by Deepika Singh, overviewed the challenges faced by Asian families and offered Social Economy as a possible solution. In the last session of the day, Pamela described how traditional livelihoods such as farming, fishing and forestry were made insecure and non-profitable due to factors such as climate change, influence of media, lack of ownership, overharvesting, etc. Luke provided a recap of the day’s sessions, and in the evening, Fr Joseph along with seminarians Clinton and Alton held recreational activities for the participants, following which participants shared about green initiatives taken individually / at their respective parishes.

The second day began with Mass celebrated by Bishop Allwyn, who with Luke, later led participants through a discussion on environmental justice and advocacy. Bishop Allwyn then conducted a session on the types and value of Ecosystem Services. Fr Joseph and Shawna then presented Carbon Footprint as a measure of humanity’s impact on the planet. In the session on Sustainable Development, Deepika compared the exploitation of Earth’s resources to a bank account from which only withdrawals are made and stressed the urgency of maintaining the world we live in. In the last session, Reclaiming Our Roots, Luke put forth aspects of the way forward – awareness, methods of repair and renewal, learning from others, law and governance, spiritual and cultural sensitivity, as well as inclusiveness. He also urged participants to share with each other their motivation for caring for the environment.

Bishop Allwyn and Fr Joseph presided over the feedback and concluding session. Suggestions from participants will be used to improve the training booklet and a follow-up programme was tentatively scheduled for 5-6 January 2019 in Nashik. Participants were encouraged to share their greening stories for the Green Diocese initiative by emailing these to Shawna at the Archdiocesan Office for Environment (AOE) – mumbaiaoe@gmail.com. The AOE extends its gratitude to Juliet Maben, Ramesh Kalukhe and to Sr Meenal and her team at Sarvodaya for logistics and their support in organising the workshop.