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Living Laudato Si – An Advent Series

Walking the path of the Willow”
…. the road to renewable energy at St Patrick’s Kiltegan
Continuing our exploration in journeying towards an ecological awakening, Toni and Helena from AMRI travelled to the beautiful home of St. Patrick’s Missionary Society, just outside of the village of Kiltegan in County Wicklow.

Responding to Pope Francis’ “challenge to protect our common home” encapsulated in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, the Fathers at St. Patrick’s Kiltegan tried to find ways of producing energy from renewable sources. They began by installing a wind turbine, solar panels and geo-thermal central heating. Recognising that more could be done, in 2018, they planted 13 acres of willow, followed by another 21 acres two years later for biomass fuel to replace their dependence on oil as central heating.

Their story is presented in a podcast and a photo blog, below. 

In the podcast, Fr. Seamus O’Neill and Fr. Pat Murphy take us on an ecological walk that reflects on how the Kiltegan Fathers have responded to the challenge of living Laudato Si:
Listen to the Podcast
Please share this podcast with others. You can copy and paste the following link into an email for sharing:
 https://bit.ly/podcast-kiltegan

(Above) Alphabet Avenue: supporting the Afri Celtic Alphabet Tree Planting Project. The trees along the ‘avenue’ reflects a commitment to living in peace and justice with our species and our planet. Each individual tree aligns with a decades-long tradition of planting 18 trees/plants that correspond with the 18 letters of the ancient Irish alphabet. 

The heart sculpture tries to capture the essence of Sli an Chroi – ‘the way of the heart’. It invites people to look into their own hearts and get in touch with compassion, vulnerability and love, and find within themselves the ability to share that love with others.  The mirrors symbolise looking at oneself, while the double heart symbolises looking outward to the world.
The centre (below) is described as “A sacred space to rest or reflect, to pray or retreat, to nourish yourself, to be nourished by quiet and nature”. Sli an Chroi is a gathering place of refuge for any individual or group to take time out of the everyday, to reflect on their sacred story and their environment. 
 
Sophia Counselling Centre provides low-cost counselling to people in West Wicklow and Carlow and is a resource for those who may be dealing with Mental health issues.

This is the first of two parts that we will share over the next few days. Please check in again. The journey of Laudato Si continues.

About this series…..

Each week, during the season of Advent, we provide a snapshot of the ways that member congregations of AMRI are living out Pope Francis 2015 Encyclical, Laudato Si. We explore the concept of an integral ecological journey – animating how we understand the interconnectedness between ourselves, our ‘common home’ and humanity.
Episode 1 (video link below) features a 15 minute short film narrated by Fr Brendan McManus SJ, shot two weeks ago in Co Fermanagh.

During our day of filming, Fr Brendan took us to four locations: his family farm in Lisnaskea, Derryadd Quay, Holy Cross Church Lisnaskea and Marble Arch Caves / Cuilcagh Geopark.
  At each of these locations Fr. Brendan reflects on his life’s journey to ecological consciousness, demonstrating the ways in which his life
experiences, his spirituality and stewardship are essential elements.

We invite you to watch the video, share the link with others, and take an ecological journey of discovery with Fr Brendan as we reawaken our sense of connectedness to the earth. To watch this video click on the link below, or copy and paste the following link: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrhMrBu1LZA 

Please share this video among your contactsAbout Fr Brendan McManus SJ

Fr. Brendan McManus comes from a farm near Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh.  After studying psychology and Information Technology (IT) at university, he worked in the UK’s computer industry as an interface designer with Hewlett Packard.  Becoming disillusioned with the ‘yuppie’ way of life, he eventually resigned and then joined the Jesuits in Dublin in 1992. He was school chaplain in Coláiste Iognáid, the Jesuit school in Galway, for some years before walking the Camino de Santiago in 2011 in memory of his brother. His book, Redemption Road, an Irish best-seller, describes the challenges and joys involved in pilgrimage as a grief process. As well as a keen walker and pilgrim guide, he is a regular blogger and social media user, promoting nature and the environment. He currently works as a Spiritual Director and retreat giver in Belfast. 

https://www.jesuit.ie/blog/brendan-mcmanus/ Reflection – Advent Series Week 1
The science is clear, and scientists have been warning us for more than two centuries (e.g., German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt 1769-1859), that the capitalist model of economic development, which necessitates overconsumption, has meant that “our house”, as the young climate activist Greta Thunberg has oft been quoted, “is on fire”. The much-anticipated COP26, where global leaders met in Glasgow to agree to protect the planet and its people from overheating has proven ineffective. It is clear that responding to these crises, demands concerted, revolutionary shifts in our thinking and action at all levels of society. As Pope Francis makes clear:
“all of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward
in a bold cultural revolution” (LS114).

Most of us will be familiar with Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical Laudato Si (2015). In this “document, addressed to all people of good will” (LS62), he recognises the complex and multiple environmental, climactic and social crises that plague ‘our common home’ today. Critical to the messaging within Laudato Si, is the recognition that all living forms are related to the other – we are all ‘interconnected’. We as human beings, are just one part in this intricate, spectacular web of life. Pope Francis clearly demonstrates how the destruction of one part, has devastating consequences for the other. Pioneering in its communication, Pope Francis corroborates that we cannot respond to ‘the cry of the earth’ (as demonstrated today through climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, desertification, soil erosion, etc.,) without seeking justice for the ‘cry of the poor’ (expressed through the intensification of global conflicts, hunger, poverty, migration, violation of human rights, compounded by the enduring threats to global democracy and peace).

In Laudato Si, Pope Francis is quite clear that we have failed in our responsibilities to protect ‘our common home’ and those who live within it. Yet, he remains hopeful that all is not lost, “for we know that things can change” [LS13]. We do, however, have an
 “urgent challenge to protect our common home … to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” [LS13].
In the encyclical, he proposes a transformative approach in how we – that is all humanity – must respond to these challenges. He charts us a new journey of ‘integral ecology’ to ensure the sustainability of our common home and a safe and just future for the youth of tomorrow. 
 “…nonetheless there is reason to hope that humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities” (LS165).