By Sister Hortensia Del Villar, S.A.C.
The Laudato Si Committee of the Diocese of San Bernardino in collaboration with St. Joseph Parish in Big Bear, are coordinating the second annual Care for Creation Day, focusing this time on celebrating the life of our Native American brothers and sisters whose legacy speak about the value of living in harmony with all of creation.
On October 4, the Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi, Diocesan leaders, parishioners, catechists, young adults and especially Catholic school students will meet at St. Joseph Parish in Big Bear to “taste and see” the beauty of God’s creation through their participation in this free diocesan event. The goal is for contemplation to move us gently to conversion in caring for our common home.
The event will begin at 10 a.m. with a Native American prayer embracing nature led by Deacon Andy Orozco and a group of Native American youth. The closing of the event will be at 3 p.m. with a reflection and action inspired in the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi.
Central to the Care for Creation Day will be a sacred walk through the beautiful mountains and trees surrounding St. Joseph’s Church. The walk will last about an hour and will include four stations that will integrate guided contemplation, silence, learning and hands on activities with pine needles, egg corns and pine nuts.
The day will also be featuring a presentation by Walter Roth, a certified naturalist and a member of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association who will speak on how the local Native American communities lived off the land while respecting and protecting it. Students will have a chance to practice some of the skills the Native Americans used to survive, like making ropes from local materials.
In his statement marking the third anniversary of his Encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of appreciating the legacy of our indigenous communities: “The lives of the indigenous peoples are a living memory of the mission that God has entrusted to us all: the protection of our common home…For them, land is not a commodity but rather a gift from God and from their ancestors who rest there, a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values (Laudato Si’, #146). How much we can learn from them!”
In a year when we have witnessed record-breaking wildfires in California, we acknowledge more than ever, our need for conversion and action in protecting the environment. Experts have pointed to rising temperatures from climate change as a key factor contributing to the severity of the wildfires. Care for Creation Day seeks to be a humble opportunity to raise awareness on “the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots.” (Laudato Si, #14)
There is no cost for this event and lunch will be provided. Participants are requested to RSVP by September 24. All are invited to bring bottled water and comfortable walking shoes.
Sr. Hortensia Del Villar belongs to the Sisters of the Guardian Angel and serves as the Director of the Diocesan Ministry of Community Services and Outreach Programs.