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Laudato Si' Ministries

On this feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology, the Office for Human Dignity of the Diocese of Joliet is excited to announce that we are launching a new ministry dedicated to the care for creation and addressing the climate crisis. Inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment published in 2015, Laudato Si’ Ministries of the Diocese of Joliet will begin on October 15th, 2019.

Laudato Si’ Ministries will use the lens of Catholic Social Teaching to approach agriculture, environmental, food sustainability, climate, and rural life issues. Through Scripture and Church teachings, we will seek to provide principled guidelines for faithful practices. The objective of this ministry is to develop a holistic approach to environmental justice and the implementation of Laudato Si’ in our local diocese, parishes, schools, and communities. We will do this through educational and pastoral support, policy and legislation, creating community, and sustainable food sources for the poor and vulnerable.

A sampling of the initiatives to be included in this new ministry:

Agriculture and food – Justice in the food system:

  • Establish a Winter Farmers Market Project, bringing organic produce to parishes throughout the diocese, especially to those parishes which may be situated in food deserts, providing an income source for small family farms.
  • Connect people throughout the diocese to the experience of the land by promoting parish and community-based CSAs.
  • Develop a Home Gardner Project, helping individual families provide for their own food needs.
  • Promote Prairie/Native Planting in home and parish settings

Rural outreach and ministry:

  • Develop of rural – urban connections, helping parishes from both settings to understand their interconnectedness and grow in appreciation and solidarity.
  • Assistance to rural based community organizing and empowerment groups through Catholic Campaign for Human Development Funding.

Stewardship of Creation: Caring for the earth:

  • Partner with our local universities to: Animate, Train, and Organize young adults in Environmental Advocacy
  • Establish Parish Based Green Teams

“Jordan River Farm”

Jordan River Farm is an envisioned Catholic community in rural Pembroke Township, Illinois that will seek to transform lives through service-retreat experiences. The community will be devoted to living out the Gospel message through the cornerstones of community, simplicity, prayer, and service. With a deep appreciation for the rich history of the African-American community rooted in the area and a welcoming embrace of the gifts present in the growing Latino community, members and volunteers of Jordan River Farm will serve alongside all of our neighbors to address issues of justice, liberation, and sustainability.

Laudato Si’ Ministries will be spearheaded by a Program Director, a role that will be filled by Kayla Jacobs, the current Relief and Development Coordinator for our Justice and Peace Ministry. Kayla brings to this ministry many years of experience working on environmental issues and a deep passion for nature and conservation. Kayla has lived and worked at organic and sustainable farms in Appalachia and currently at the Nativity House Catholic Worker Farm. She has advocated for the environment on the federal, state, and local level. She is also an avid outdoorswoman and enjoys spending all of her free time either working in the garden or hiking, rock climbing, camping, and paddling, all done in awe of God’s gift of nature.

Tom Garlitz, director of the Office for Human Dignity, states that while the office has long had an interest in environmental concerns, the Laudato Si’ Ministries initiative gives us opportunity to bring a more expansive and integrated approach to the challenges behind the climate crisis and stemming from it.

Our office is very grateful for the generosity of the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters for their support to begin this new ministry through their Wheaton Franciscan Sisters Ministry Fund. We would also like to thank Bishop R. Daniel Conlon for his continued support and encouragement. If you are interested in getting involved with Laudato Si’ Ministries or would like to welcome Kayla to her new role feel free to contact her at kjacobs@dioceseofjoliet.org.

Stay tuned for more details in the coming days!

Happy Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, brothers and sisters!