St. Francis and Sustainability

Author: Rachel Novick

Feast of St Francis

On Tuesday October 4th, the Notre Dame community will celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the environment. The celebration, which has recently become a tradition at Notre Dame, will be marked by festivities, thought-provoking discussion, and opportunities to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis, who was known for his love for nature and the poor.

Mass will be celebrated by Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, C.S.C., at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at 5:15 p.m. At 7:00 p.m., Professor Matt Ashley, Chair of Theology, will present Sustainability and Catholic Theology in Jordan 101, followed by a reception. Dinner at North and South Dining Halls will feature a nature-themed dessert buffet in honor of the Feast Day, generously provided by ND Food Services. Tables will be located at each dining hall where students, staff, and faculty can sign pledges to better care for nature and the poor through service opportunities and simple everyday choices.

This year’s Feast of St. Francis comes at a time of increasing concern for the health of the planet but also of increased awareness and activism, including in the American Catholic community. Notre Dame’s Office of Sustainability recently collaborated with the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and representatives from Santa Clara University and Catholic University of America to publish Sustainability and Catholic Higher Education: A Toolkit for Mission Integration. This toolkit is currently being disseminated to Catholic colleges and universities across the country to provide guidance and resources that will help them further integrate sustainability into the fabric of campus life.

“The publication of the Toolkit represents the culmination of a year-long collaborative process in which the Notre Dame Office of Sustainability was intimately involved,” said Dan Dileo, Project Manager at the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change. “Notre Dame’s Sustainability personnel helped craft the vision, framework and contents of the Toolkit by sharing their invaluable experience of ‘doing’ mission-based sustainability at a Catholic school.”

“The toolkit is built around the Coalition’s St. Francis Pledge, which brings together families, parishes, schools and communities around the country in a commitment to reduce their carbon footprint and advocate on behalf of Creation and the poor,” added Dileo. “Many students, staff, and faculty at Notre Dame have already signed the St. Francis Pledge, and we encourage the rest of the Notre Dame community to do the same."

Notre Dame’s Feast of St. Francis program is cosponsored by the Office of Sustainability, Student Government, GreeND, Campus Ministry, the Center for Social Concerns, and the Department of Theology. Members of the local community are invited to attend.

“On the Feast of St. Francis, we recall the words of a saint who told us to ‘preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, to use words,’” said Patrick McCormick ’12, Student Body President. “The true celebration of the legacy of St. Francis will be in the actions that we take in a world that all too often loses sight of the fact that a commitment to ecological justice is inseparable from a commitment to the dignity of the human person.”