Thursday, 25 August 2022 08:55

Sandhurst Clergy focus on Integral Ecology at Annual Inservice

37 Sandhurst Priests, last week, gathered at Cadell on the Murray in Moama for the annual Sandhurst Priests Inservice. The theme this year was integral ecology and Laudato Si’ Action.  The program was organised by Fr Brian Boyle, who amongst other things, is the Director of Clergy Life and Ministry in Sandhurst. 
Priests inservice all
“I was very pleased with the level of involvement and enthusiasm of all the priests who attended the program,” he said. “The purpose of the program was to help priests see that care for the environment is an integral part of the gospel. It was an invitation to conversion and action.”
 The Inservice focused on three key documents, delivered by three speakers, who also introduced practical ways to achieve more sustainable ways of living and working.   
Bishop Shane Mackinlay spoke about the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement 2021-2022, “Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor”, focusing on the way all things are connected, and that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach, integrating questions of justice in any consideration of the environment.  
Kylie Smith, from Catholic Education Sandhurst, focused on the Sandhurst “Care for Creation Statement” and spoke about the wide use and misuse of the many different types of plastics and ways we can reduce, reuse, and better recycle plastics. 
Bernard Holland, former Director of Catholic Earthcare, spoke to Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ and explained the ways Catholic Earthcare  can assist parishes  to work towards reaching the 7 Laudato Si’ goals and how Earthcare fits with the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.  
Fr Brian explained his hopes for the Inservice program, “I wanted all priests to come to a clearer sense of how attention to the environment is key to the Gospel, and also to provide ideas for practical steps of action which they could take, for themselves, and for their parishes, to create a more sustainable environment,” he said. 
“It was important, that we showed the ways that the gospel supports action. The program included lots of practical ideas ─ things you can do in your parish to work towards the 7 Laudato Si’ goals,” explained Fr Boyle. 
“All priests were gifted a sapling to plant in their parish or presbytery garden, which we hope will continue to remind them of the need to act in ways which are sustainable and ethical and encourage this throughout parish life.”
“For me personally, I returned home and immediately started to work on my recycling system, paying particular attention to the different types of plastics,” said Fr Boyle.   
Fr Stephen Bolling, Parish Priest of Eaglehawk and Inglewood reflected on the Inservice: 
“The Diocesan Clergy Inservice was an opportunity to step back from the activity of parish life, connect with our brother priests and look at some of the broader challenges in the world in which we minister. Learning more about some of the consequences of our throwaway culture, like the impact of plastics, illustrated the importance of an attitude of gratitude towards creation. It was very informative to learn of the national and global initiatives that are already coordinating efforts in this area and to discuss with other priests what could be done or was already being done at the parish level. On the bank of the Murray River, it was a perfect location to reflect on how creation testifies to God’s power and love for us, and on our responsibilities as stewards of creation.”
Novelito Lim, Parish Priest of Kerang, Cohuna, and Pyramid Hill said, 
“The Inservice was a good reminder for us that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely interconnected relationships: with God, with our neighbour, and with the earth itself. We have been given dominion over all creation, but this dominion means STEWARDSHIP.  God created us, and we must live our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork. This is essential to a life of virtue. A lasting change is needed to lead to community conversion.
The Inservice has also given us practical examples to care for creation in our personal life which we can bring to the parish and even the whole Diocese. As part of creation, we need to give back and care for creation ─ right where we live.”