Notre Dame signs St. Francis Pledge

Author: Rachel Novick


Fr. John Jenkins signed the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor today, making Notre Dame a partner in a national movement to respond to Pope Benedict’s and the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ call for faithful action on climate change.

The St. Francis Pledge is the central outreach tool for the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, a membership organization drawing guidance and support from a growing list of national Catholic organizations, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

The pledge asks Catholic individuals, parishes, and institutions to pray and learn about climate change, to assess their own environmental impact, to act to reduce their impact, and to advocate for policies and initiatives that protect the environment and the world’s poor.

“The University of Notre Dame is seen not just as a top U.S. university, but as a Catholic institution in service to the world,” said Daniel Misleh, Executive Director of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change. “By taking the St. Francis Pledge, the University will expand its commitment to mission-based sustainability in a way consistent with Catholic ideals and values: caring for God’s gift of Creation with a keen awareness that actions taken today impact people at home and abroad, especially the poor and vulnerable who suffer most from environmental degradation and climate change.”

Over the last several years, Notre Dame has made significant efforts to help the community of Catholic colleges and universities make progress in the area of sustainability. Most notably, Notre Dame hosted Renewing the Campus: Sustainability and the Catholic University, the first national conference of its kind. Over 200 faculty, administrators, and students from 45 universities across the country participated. More recently, Notre Dame’s Office of Sustainability helped to craft Sustainability and Catholic Higher Education: A Toolkit for Mission Integration , which has been distributed to Catholic colleges and universities across the country.

“Making a commitment to be better stewards of God’s creation is not only a sign of hope, but a necessity,” said Tami Schmitz, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry. “The St. Francis Pledge provides an important framework for expanding collaboration between Campus Ministry and Sustainability and we are grateful to Fr. Jenkins for his leadership on this issue.”

Notre Dame has recently expanded its commitment to sustainability by announcing a comprehensive strategy that includes ambitious carbon and waste reduction goals. “We appreciate the opportunity to explicitly link our sustainability initiatives to our Catholic mission,” said Heather Christophersen, Director of Sustainability. “In order to accomplish our goals, we need the support of all members of the Notre Dame community. We encourage everyone to pledge their support by signing the St. Francis Pledge and by taking the 2030 Challenge."