Students Rally for the Environment

On Sept. 20, 11 St. John’s students led by biology teacher Seth Brown attended a day of faith and action in support of the Vatican-designated Season of Creation. 
The season, a time for prayer, environment clean-ups and advocacy, began Sept. 1, the Day of Prayer for Creation, and runs through Oct. 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology. The theme of this year’s celebration is the Web of Life: Biodiversity as God’s Blessing. Hundreds of global Catholic and ecumenical events – prayer services, climate strikes and large public events with bishops – will take place during this month.
In solidarity with the efforts of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, and in the spirit of Laudato Si’, the 2015 encyclical letter and first papal document dedicated exclusively to the environment, Catholic Charities DC hosted a student-led prayer service focused on climate justice and intergenerational solidarity in safeguarding our common home. The morning prayer service at St. Patrick’s Church in DC allowed students to share their thoughts on the climate crisis and reflect on the protection of the environment. Kit Place ’21 represented St. John’s by reading the Litany of Commitment during the service. 
The Season of Creation is also a time to urge governments to enact better climate policies. After the prayer service, participants rallied at Lafayette Square before marching to Capitol Hill in support of the Global Climate Strike, a youth-led initiative inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who challenged world leaders to take action on climate justice. Participation in the strike is endorsed by the Laudato Si’ Generation, an initiative of the Global Catholic Climate Movement. From the prayer service to the march, students were inspired by the zeal of the activists. “It was really great to see so many people of all ages who were passionate about stopping climate change. There was such positive energy throughout the march, and it made me hopeful that things can really start to change,” said Celia Chorzempa ’21.
As biology teacher and moderator of the Eco Club, Brown has a keen understanding of what is at stake if the global community does not take immediate action to address this critical issue. “Pope Francis reminds us that ‘we are the guardians of creation’ and must protect the environment. It has become evident that the old way of doing things is unsustainable. The youth of SJC know this and in one voice with fellow students around the word have said, ‘No more!’ Friday’s rally will be seen as a turning point in our history. I am so excited and touched that our students were able to be a part of it,” he said.