Among an array of activities to close the week-long celebrations of Laudato Si’, the Ignitian Youth Network (IYNIGO), an Arrupe Jesuit Institute youth empowerment movement in Ghana attended Holy Mass that was marked by planting of trees as a gesture of their commitment towards environmental sustainability.
About 20 volunteers of the group planted mango, pear and coconut trees at the event that was held on Sunday, May 24 at the new site of the Arrupe Jesuit Institute at Atomic Hills, a suburb of the Capital of the West African nation.
On May 24, 2015, Pope Francis signed Laudato Si’, his Encyclical Letter that called the world’s attention to the increasingly precarious state of the environment. Five years on, the encyclical appears ever more relevant, according to the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development of the Vatican.
Following Pope Francis’ invitation to join Laudato Si’ Week celebration, Catholics all over the world including Ghanaians reflected and celebrated the Week with activities, which started on Saturday, May 16 and ended on Sunday, May 24, 2020.
In a homily at the commemorative Mass, the Founding Director of the Ghana-based Arrupe Jesuit Institute, Fr. Kpanie Addy urged the youth to be more conscious of the environment, which he said was “a common home for all.”
“We are all waiting at various levels, even waiting and praying for an end to these challenging times of the end to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even what we will do at the end of today’s event of tree planting is an invitation to wait in joyful hope since the four fruit seedlings we are planting will not grow overnight but take time, hence, a reminder of the wisdom of the axiom of Pope Francis that ‘time is greater than space,’” he said.
The Jesuit priest added, “Above all, we wait in joyful hope and in a mood of prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, making ours the prayer of the responsorial psalm of next week Sunday, ‘Lord, send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.’”
Speaking to ACI Africa correspondent on the sidelines of the May 24 program, Fr. Kpanie touted the initiative of the youth network saying, “The day’s event was auspicious for a number of reasons, foremost of which is to climax the Laudato Si’ Week 2020, five years since the encyclical was issued. But for us Jesuits in Ghana, it is auspicious also since it is the first time for us to celebrate Holy Mass on our property at Atomic Hills at the place earmarked as the future permanent site of the Arrupe Jesuit Institute.”
“We prayed and planted seedlings, believing that just as the seedlings will grow into full maturity over time, so also by our prayers and hard work of nurturing, the mission of the Jesuits in Ghana, particularly of the Arrupe Jesuit Institute, will grow and fully mature over the course of time,” he said.
The Founding Director of the Arrupe Jesuit Institute also touched on the need to keep the environment safe and averred, “It helps to understand that the earth as our common home is not only a Christian understanding but even more universal in scope.”
“For us, as African Christians, it resonates strongly with our primal cultures and religious outlook. The earth is a mother to us all and every child worth the name takes care of his or her mother in appreciation of the care he or she has received from the mother,” he stated.
According to the Jesuit Cleric, the reinstitution of arbor week celebration where tree planting is encouraged is laudable and suggested to the Church hierarchy to reconsider its reintroduction to save the environment.
“The arbor day concept is laudable and needs to be encouraged. The church can show leadership in this regard by having something of a tree planting exercise to mark each world day for care of creation which is September 1, each year,”’ he said.
At the event, the President of IYNIGO, Ms. Scholastica Barimah emphasized the significant contribution of trees to the ecosystem, describing the initiative as “a groundbreaking one that sets the platform for many of such activities with a focus on caring for the environment.”
”It is an undeniable fact that planting of trees is of much value and importance to the world. So, to IYNIGO, the tree planting exercise we just had will help nature in mitigating global warming for the future of our children and to have a clean and safe environment for the next generation to come,” Ms. Barimah told ACI Africa correspondent.
Touching on how the group intends to sustain the drive for the care for the environment, Ms. Barimah said that Holy Mass will be held once every month accompanied by a tree planting exercise even as the group tends to the already planted trees.
Meanwhile, Caritas Ghana held a virtual session with all the 20 Diocesan Caritas Directors to mark the Laudato Si’ week.
The Episcopal President of Caritas Ghana, Bishop Joseph Osei-Bonsu joined the virtual meeting from his Konongo-Mampong Diocese and exhorted the Diocesan Caritas Directors “to engage in concrete and meaningful activities that will secure our Common Home.”
The meeting agreed to collate activities that would have been carried out in all Dioceses at the end of the Laudato Si’ Week, according to Samuel Zan Akologo, the Executive Secretary of Caritas Ghana who added that “Laudato Si’ has become the moral compass and critical path for development programming and pro-poor public policy advocacy in Ghana.”
He further said that deepening awareness and response to Laudato Si’ through personal conversion and behaviour change is being championed while ongoing Caritas Ghana projects that already address climate change and environmental concerns are being consolidated.
The flagship ones, he noted, are the Care for Our Common Home E-Waste Management Project, Anti-Land Grabbing advocacy and the Sanitation and Pollution campaigns.
In a bid to clean the environment while raising awareness about COVID-19, Fr. Bright Kennedy Agyepong, Parish Priest of St. Peter’s Catholic Church at Somanya in the Koforidua Diocese on Saturday, May 23 held the first-ever clean-up exercise in the Somanya township and its environs during which weeds were cleared, choked gutters distilled and rubbish cleared off.
With the aim of bringing the youth together to sensitize the residents on the importance of sanitation, Fr. Agyepong explained to the media that the clean-up exercise was meant to rekindle the communal labor attitude among individuals and to bring back the national sanitation week-day that will ultimately lead to protecting the environment.
“A clean environment is a key to our survival,” said Fr. Agyepong who founded Bright Inspiration, a socio-religious group that focuses on motivation, women and children, water and sanitation, social activism, education and health issues.
He explained that the exercise will be carried out once every month to revive communal works at Somanya and the national sanitation program.