Within the Catholic Church, a Green Mass is appropriately celebrated during the Season of Creation, which begins on Sept. 1 (the World Day for Prayer for the Care of Creation) and continues to Oct. 4 (the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi). The theme chosen for Season of Creation 2023 is “Let Justice and Peace Flow.”
The Diocese of Gary will celebrate the season with a Mass of Creation presided by Bishop Robert J. McClory next month. The Green Mass will take place on Wed., Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. at St. Ann of the Dunes in Porter County.
St. Ann of the Dunes is located in Beverly Shores and overlooks the natural beauty of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. “The glory of God’s creation is on full display at this location,” said Beth Casbon, moderator for the diocesan Social Teaching Commission.
“It will be a beautiful Mass celebrating all of God’s creation and praying that we will be good stewards of that creation, attentive to the needs of the planet and of our brothers and sisters – a time of fellowship with like-minded Catholics,” she added.
The Social Teaching Commission, along with seven other ecclesial commissions, was created after the 2017 Synod to assist and support parishes in the diocese with the implementation and execution of their Synod goals. On an ongoing basis, the commission was tasked with providing leadership, programming and advocacy on issues that involve Catholic Social Teaching.
In recent years, the Social Teaching Commission gave a presentation to the Diocesan Pastoral Council on the topic of racism, specifically on how thoughts and actions on this issue should be informed by Catholic Social Teaching. The commission organized and sponsored a Charity Summit in 2019 to call attention to the Christian obligation to be charitable and identify how local charitable efforts are funded, coordinated and delivered. The group also organized and sponsored a summit in 2021 focusing on Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si’: Caring for our Common Home.” The objectives of this event were to call attention to an urgency in caring for the Earth and to help parishes identify opportunities to uphold life and care for all of God’s Creation.
As a baptized Catholic, husband, parent, grandparent, active global citizen and lawyer having practiced in the public policy arena, Robert Castagna said he is deeply concerned about the world he passes on to his children, grandchildren and future generations.
He and his wife Sue, parishioners of St. John the Evangelist, have been married for 52 years and said they want to see the Catholic community take active steps to address the climate crisis which they believe has worsened significantly since 2015 when Pope Francis wrote his encyclical to the global community.
“We want to be involved with all people of goodwill in taking individual, small steps so that together we may be involved in a global march to save Mother Earth for future generations and all animal and plant species,” he said.
Castagna hopes the Green Mass on Sept. 6 will call Catholics to pray, think and act on the urgent climate crisis the world is confronting.
“That urgency is tangible today in wildfires consuming forests and polluting the air we breathe, the hottest temperatures ever recorded threatening life itself, floods ravaging and destroying communities, droughts devastating farming communities and ocean temperatures exceeding 100 degrees killing coral reefs and aquatic life,” he said.
“God created the world for our enjoyment and use,” said Deacon Frank Zolvinski. “The Book of Genesis tells us that God gave humans dominion over His creation. That dominion calls us to accountability and to be good stewards of God’s creation.”
The deacon, who serves Holy Family Parish in LaPorte, shared a reminder that care for creation is a Catholic Social Teaching and the misuse of the Earth’s resources shows a “disregard for the very Earth God gave us to care for.”
Deacon Zolvinski also believes we are at a critical time in our world’s history, alluding to global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels that is affecting weather patterns and destroying natural land and sea resources.
“Our human lifestyle is one of the major contributors to our ecological crisis,” said Deacon Zolvinski. “The Church needs to raise awareness of our destructive patterns and call us to accountability to be better stewards of God’s creation. A Green Mass would help promote this aspect of Catholic Social Teaching.”
Deacon Zolvinski proposed three ways in which the faithful can put into practice caring for the environment. He encourages churches to create parish study groups to read and reflect on Pope Francis encyclical, Laudato Si’, pointing out the final section provides many ideas to improve the environment. Next, he said it’s important to examine “your own recycling habits and work with your local and county agencies who promote sustainable environmental practices.” Finally, he encouraged the development of parish social teaching commissions to promote and study the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.
“If you don’t already have a Catholic Social Teaching Commission, implore your pastor to start one,” he said.
Castagna added that individuals and families can participate in advancing the teaching of Laudato Si’ by educating themselves through the Catholic Climate Covenant (catholicclimatecovenant.org) and the Laudato Si’ Movement (laudatosimovement.org). They can also take steps to mitigate and reverse gaseous emissions in the atmosphere by planting trees or arranging to have trees planted through the Arbor Day Foundation; by installing solar panels; by switching to a heat pump for heating and air-conditioning; by switching to electric cars, lawn mowers, snow blowers. leaf-blowers, etc.; by reducing, reusing and recycling; and by eliminating single-use plastics to the greatest extent possible.