|Posted by AOE on September 14, 2020 at 8:20 AM|
The Certificate Course for Eco Ambassadors, an initiative of the Archdiocesan Office for Environment (AOE), was held in 2019. Participation was enthusiastic and a lot of knowledge on Environmental Issues was imparted. Participants who unfortunately missed a session or two due to unavoidable reasons were given the opportunity to make up the sessions during the next course the following year. Then came the lockdown and that put paid to these plans.
Fortunately Technology came to the rescue and participants were given the option of attending the missed sessions online. But there was a rider – the sessions would be conducted by those who had attended the sessions the others had missed. Ms Shawna Nemesia Rebello very ably coordinated everything from PPTs, to practice sessions, to deciding between Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco Webex Meetings and Zoho Meeting. Well, she did take the session on Technology and very well too. Fr Joseph Gonsalves and Fr Luke Rodrigues SJ attended the sessions and were available for guidance.
Participants were encouraged to attend all 6 sessions, held in July and August 2020, besides the ones missed and the ones they would be taking. It was a great experience. They were happy to complete the sessions missed; and taking a session that they had originally attended was a revision and a great learning experience much like the assignments done after each session. They came from different walks of life. Some had already experienced online sessions but it was new for others. They helped each other, practised online sessions from muting and unmuting to creating content and sharing screens but on D-day all managed very well. Taking a session with like-minded adults about something all were passionate about was a pleasure. Of course, there were last minute glitches common to all online sessions but the learning took place.
They’re proud to be Eco Ambassadors once the assignments are assessed, but that’s just the beginning, not the end. The primary need is reparation for sins against our common home - waste of food and resources, consumerism and greed. We’re close to the point of no return but most people are unaware of the gravity of the situation. Creating awareness so that fewer people can plead ignorance is the first step. Saving water and electricity, segregation and composting, the 5Rs, etc. is vital but these will just take care of the symptoms. It is a short term goal. The long term goal is to transform lives, simplify and cultivate better habits. All are connected – human beings, animals and ecosystems; and all share a common home. Human beings need to move from self-centredness to thinking of the ‘Common Good’ for our ‘Common Home’ – Mother Earth.
About the sessions itself, the name of the game today is adapting, be it office, school, shopping, yoga, et al. Therefore, though some exercises had to be excluded the message came across, serious learning took place for both those conducting and those attending. They even learned more about the sessions they had already attended. In addition they learned discipline - no speaking out of turn, sticking to the topic, collaboration, and most importantly about environmental issues and the way forward. The duration of the sessions needs to be extended to enable more discussion which leads to personalisation and action. Much can be done even during lockdown and at the concluding feedback session, Bishop Allwyn D’Silva was enthusiastically assured that the Eco Ambassadors course must continue online due to the current situation, the show must go on. Eco Ambassadors will extend their full support and are sure that it will change lives and save our Common Home.
There are of course pros and cons. The session was for a shorter period of time, it had to be adapted to suit the online method, and there was limited interaction and camaraderie which is very important. On the other hand, participants will not have to wake up early on a Sunday morning to reach a fixed venue at 9 am. The travel time for some was over an hour. This would mean more people would be able to sign up. If it is held Deanery-wise some of the participants will most likely already know each other.
Participation in the online Eco Ambassadors Course is highly recommended. The Resource Persons are experts in their field but the knowledge comes across clearly in simple terms. The sessions are interesting, interactive and to the point. It can be hard hitting but when collaborative action is taken it will be effective. An example is the lowering of the level of devastation during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when the world slowed down. The world needs to unite to save Mother Earth our Common Home.
Life goes on, or will it? God is good all the time, all the time God is good!!
|Posted by AOE on September 14, 2020 at 8:05 AM|
Report by Deepika Singh
The program was designed and implemented by the AOE secretary Ms Deepika Singh with support of Fr Joseph Gonsalves the Head of AOE for the students of St Andrews College, Bandra (SOP) SOCIAL OUT REACH PROGRAM 2019-20 in collaboration with Archdiocesan Office for Environment (AOE).
This project was designed with various objectives, such as:
- To give the college youth an exposure of rural realities
- Group travel using the public transport
- A date with nature: an opportunity to encounter nature and mother soil concretely by engaging in plantation
- To engage in reflection on an inter-religious approach to environment protection and eco-friendly living
Accordingly two activities were held first at Gorai, through Fatima Convent in their wadi on December 20, 2019 wherein total 44 SOP students planted 28 fruit trees followed by participating in a session comprising of sharing their concerns, personal experiences and the second activity was held on 20th January 2020 at Anmol Center (Don Bosco Uttan) where by 48 students planted about 85 saplings of fruit and shared giving native trees.
The team was super excited while for the first project they travelled by jetty for an hour and then by auto to the village-Manori while second one all travelled by train and bus. The whole tour through the creek and villages was in itself a treat for them as they were freed from the daily routine classroom atmosphere.
The plantation was followed by a short informal session comprising of brief input on current environmental scenario, impacts of climate change, environmental threats and some of the positive contributions of people and NGOs. The students were invited to share their concerns, ideas on environment protection, their experience of the plantation activities and the feedback if any.
The Students expressed anxiety over the ever increasing pollution of the land, soil, water and the coasts through various industrial activities, house hold wastes, pollution through vehicles, etc. They also expressed deep sadness over felling of hundreds of trees for so called development projects. Few students also informed that they are involved in personally motivated voluntary activities of tree plantation and other activities with various NGOs.
Overall feedback of both projects by the students was very encouraging. Some of them also shared their feelings and gratitude for the “first time” ever experience of even of holding the pickaxe/shovel etc. Digging and planting the saplings was much appreciated as this helped them engage with mother earth and soil very concretely. Since the nuns invited them to come back to the plantation site any time just to watch and review their plants, everyone wishes to come back at some point of time to revisit the site.
Everyone appreciated and thanked for the wonderful experience and expressed hope to be connected. They also thanked the AOE for sponsoring the project specifically the sapling and the refreshments for the students.
|Posted by AOE on January 15, 2020 at 6:05 AM|
It was on the 11th of January 2020 at the St Pius X Seminary that we, the environmentally conscious participants of the Certificate Course for Eco Ambassadors, gathered for our valedictory. Along with our guests and some participants from other programmes organised by the Archdiocesan Office for Environment (AOE) – a total of 80 people – we took a solemn pledge to: ‘Pray for and with creation, Live more simply and Advocate to protect our common home’. This marked the culmination of our enriching six-month training programme offered by the AOE, and we now step into a whole new endeavour as Eco Ambassadors, or Eco Warriors - Bishop Allwyn D’Silva’s preferred term, in this battle against greed.
The ceremony began at 4.30 PM in the seminary hall, where refreshments were served in a trash-free manner, beverages in ceramic cups and snacks in trays, eliminating disposable cups and plates. We then invited The Lord in our midst with a prayer service led by Valerie Lobo and Aloysius Athaide. There was also a small song performance by Anuradha Lobo, Sr Filomena Goes, Julie Anthony, Maria Dsouza and Nadine Pereira, which was truly riveting as they captured plight of the poor, in their rendition of ‘Goan chodab nahin' (We will not leave our village) - highlighting issues of natural resources being exploited by corporates in tribal regions of India and their disastrous effects.
Next we had a keynote session by Mr Jayesh Harsora, founder of Vasundhara Green Club, who asked us to reflect on how everyday actions of lavishly using natural resources, will affect future generations; our very own children and grandchildren are the ones who will bear the brunt of our ignorance and unwillingness to change, all of this when put on a timeline is just about 25 years away. Bishop Allwyn D'Silva enlightened us about the ‘Green diocese initiative’ that was launched in September 2018 by Cardinal Oswald Gracias, which aims to make Mumbai a greener Diocese; the Certificate Course for Eco Ambassadors being part of this overall objective. Green Diocese core group member and course director, Fr Luke Rodrigues SJ went over the course structure, revisiting the six main topics we learnt about and explained how the course aimed to boost the ecological commitment in our everyday lives, serve the purpose of the Green Diocese initiative and hence part of the larger overall objective of ‘care for our common home’ as spoken in Laudato Si’ by Pope Francis.
Our guest of honour, His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias, narrated his story of conversion, from being a climate change sceptic in 2013 to becoming a pioneer of the green movement in Mumbai; it was only when he witnessed the disastrous effects of climate change, and spoke to those who were forced to leave their homes because of such factors, was he struck to the core. He urged us to shift to an ‘Eco - Culture’ where the importance of nature is realised and we care for each other as a family, and grow to have a relationship like St Francis of Assisi who called the sun his brother and moon his sister, as in theological sense we are all brothers and sisters who are created by God. He invited us to reflect on how we violate the seventh commandment - ‘Thou shall not steal’ as we keep stealing resources from the future, from the less fortunate, by consuming more than we require, by wasting precious resources in our day to day lives. His Eminence also asked us to ponder on how we will additionally fail to keep the fifth commandment - ‘Thou shall not kill’ if we keep up the same level of consumption and follow the same lifestyles, as we will deprive the future from essential resources hence effectively killing them.
Fr Joseph Gonsalves, Head – AOE, guided us in drafting a personal pledge, inviting all of us present to take a few decisive steps, in doing our bit to protect mother earth. Two participants, namely Allan Rodrigues and Joan Lobo, shared their experiences and feedback. Certificates were presented by Cardinal Gracias to all who completed / participated in the course and to those who attended the various programmes and sessions organised by the AOE. The evening was then brought to a beautiful end by Shawna Nemesia Rebello, our course coordinator and Green Diocese core group member, who thanked all who made this event possible. A group photograph was taken with creative eco-friendly props made by Luna Murzello-D’Souza, which will commemorate this memorable day. Thoughtful and eco-friendly gifts were then given to participants of the certificate course.
|Posted by AOE on December 2, 2019 at 11:10 AM|
Report by Deepika Singh
A Youth Nature Camp was successfully organised by the Archdiocesan Office for Environment (AOE) from 5-7th November 2019 at Nasik. The Coordination team comprised Fr Joseph Gonsalves, Fr Ryan Alex, Fr Joshua D’Souza, and Ms Deepika Singh. The Nature Camp started with the participants leaving by a mini bus from Bandra to Maharashtra Prabodhan Seva Mandal (MPSM), Nasik. The bus travel was a great time to get introduced and familiar with each other while enjoying the beautiful scenic and joyful moments with onboard entertainment by the participants as well as party songs played in the bus.
The Camp schedule began with a wise allotment of rooms, a soothing welcome drink, lunch and the introductory session with very creative icebreakers by Fr Ryan Alex followed by sessions by Fr Godfrey D’Lima, SJ, the Director of MPSM who shared on the ideas of rual-urban dependency on environment with specific focus on the various environment and climate change focused programs and activities being implemented by MPSM. The herbal remedy session with demonstration by the MPSM unit was much appreciated and welcomed by the participants who even patronised by purchasing many of them before they left the campus on the last day. The evening of the first day was power packed with several and exciting telegames under the direction of Fr Ryan with the team of 4 assistants - namely Fr Joshua, Ms Deepika, Joy Lobo and Renita. The last telegame concluding with organic holi colours was the craziest and most enjoyed by all.
Reciting the Rosary near Grotto was relaxing after hectic game time followed by dinner and sessions by Ms Deepika Singh on “Environment and You” & the “Family Carbon Calculation”. The presentation began with Greta Thunberg video “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,' climate activist Greta Thunberg has told world leaders at the 2019 UN” and sharing important facts and predictions of IPCC on future threats and challenges, the worst impacts on the poor and marginalised, understanding how the industries and human society is polluting and destroying the mother earth, urgent need to change, understanding our carbon footprint and possible change we must make to be less heavy on the mother planet.
The second day of the camp began with celebration of Holy Eucharist by Fr Joshua followed by breakfast and time to connect with nature and people. The participants travelled to the near villages, visited 2-3 points to view the farming and tree cultivation programs where in group of women plants about 1000 trees, we also visited villages and interacted with where the Indigo CSR projects are implemented. People poor though welcomed with whatever they have. Finally the Campers enjoyed and appreciated much the lunch prepared and served in the village style in “Nadurkipada” of Harsul village.
The Mushroom plantation was the last activity in the village exposure tour, reaching the camp site, after a break for rest and refreshment the Campers gathered for a common activity, energised with games the group was led to recapture their moments spent during last two days, formulate themes, compose a skit which should have both comic and content. The mother earth, people we met and the all our concerns were lifted in the holy Rosary at the Grotto followed by the Campfire (not literary) on the terrace where the teams performed their skit and continued with their entertainment.
The last and concluding morning began with the interesting and well appreciated activity the “river walk” and the “nature-prayer”. Breakfast followed by an interesting and interactive session by Fr Joshua on Pope Francis' Encyclical Laudato Si', where by the participants deeply reflected and pledged to “make a change” in their life style to contribute to caring for mother earth, the most loved session with “Snake Friends” by ...and finally the Earth Worrier Nature Camp 2019 came to a conclusion with Holy Eucharist celebrated by Fr Ryan. After Lunch the Campers decided to take a short break at “Sula Wines” after which we headed towards Mumbai.
TESTIMONY BY JESSICA AUGUSTINE
A breath of fresh air, the sweet wind blowing the birds singing and the magnificent big blue sky above. what perpetual beauty.. the same perpetual beauty that can be experienced only with our eyes closed. Well, a enriching and a very fruitful Nature Camp had been organised by the Archdiocese of Bombay in the first week of November. It all revolved around "A BETTER EARTH" from fellowship to meeting wonderful new people, visiting villages knowing the villagers, farmers and their cattle and living a sustainable life. All of it under one roof was the nature camp. Personally from being a person that didn't care about how buying clothes after having enough to using the AC during winters would actually make such a huge difference collectively to now me being able to at least try to live and support sustainable development. And this is the impact that the nature camp created on me, and I know each one of use at the camp has gone back to be a better version, the one that cares and craves a better change. It might take years to show the change we do today or might even feel impossible for the huge destruction. I believe and we should all believe in Mat 19:26 with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
Let's be the change we wish to see.
Let's do this, together. If not for us, for the ones to come.
|Posted by AOE on September 3, 2019 at 7:25 AM|
|Posted by AOE on April 26, 2019 at 4:50 AM|
This two-day workshop was held on the 24th and 25th April 2019 and was organised by the Office for Human Development - Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, the Archdiocesan Office for Environment - Mumbai and the Commission for Ecology - Conference of Catholic Bishops of India. Twenty seven participants were trained and awarded certificates.
The organisers appreciate the recap in poetry written by participant Sandhya A Fernandes from St Thomas parish, Aldona - Goa which is reproduced below:
Workshop Recap in Poetry by Sandhya Fernandes
Water, precious water in a bowl
Made us to save, our goal
Our actions made us totally aware
We began the day with a prayer
Laudato Si' we praise thee
The inspiring edition of our Holy See
Meant for the lay people to practise
His Grace Bishop Allwyn introduced it aptly
A lot of learning happens in doing
Adapt it to your region said Luke Mendes
Games, flip charts, theatre, poem, experiments
Use it for the children's betterment
Sense learning connect the reality
Make environment learning a fun activity
Earth is our home, we are the citizens
We came to believe in interactive sessions
Pamela made food so delicious
Local food became so sumptuous
Food is a great healer to mankind
But nowadays it is difficult to find
Genetically modified food say 'No'
Contaminated food an eye sore
Enjoy the lovely meals made at home
Extended healthy life span and many more
Kitchen is the heart of the home
To purchase junk food don't roam
Sharing of recipes made our mouths water
We longed for good food appetisers
Carbon footprint made us sick
Enriched, frightened us in Shawna's speech
Greenhouse effects left us horrified
Emitting carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide
Sessions, Exercise, breakfast, lunch, dinner too good
I don't think anyone cann complain or brood
Cultural programme, games ended the day
Today's sessions all the very best I pray
Sad to note we are stealers
The rich heritage from our ancestors
Session I longed for, Deepika well covered
Future generations to give without measure
Do I contribute to save Mother Nature
Made the groups to go yonder and ponder
To protect it daily should be our practice
Let's react to the noble act of Pope Francis
'Challenge to see' not only for our ages
Said Fr Vincent, it's for all stages
Different lifestyles and their impact
Families work together for a greener pact
Caring for creation, regenerating creation
Introspect, do a self examination
Media why are you creating a perspective?
Be a platform, more environment constructive
'Reclaiming our roots' spoke Professor Luke
Environmental, economic and social issues
Awareness, repair, reverse, learn from others
Inclusive of dependents and stakeholders
Consciousness, awareness I should thrive
For a healthy, wealthy nature to strive
A gift I will leave behind for posterity
A treasure to cherish for eternity
Dancing sessions relaxed our muscles
Rivers, oceans moved and came alive
Morning walk made us one with nature
Blessed manifold by our beloved Creator
Water, ecosystems, livelihood, social economy
Mock sessions will go down memory
Registration, sessions, excellent hospitality
God bless members of FABC, CCBI and AOE
|Posted by AOE on March 18, 2019 at 8:35 AM|
The Archdiocesan Office for Environment (AOE) in collaboration with Muktisagar Prabhodan Kendra and St Vincent De Paul Society (SVP) – Dharavi Bet Area Council organised a one-day training programme in the premises of the church of Our Lady of the Sea in Uttan on 17th March 2019. About 140 SVP office bearers and members from different parishes of Bhayandar deanery participated in this training programme which was themed ‘Caring for Creation’ and ‘Greening of the Archdiocese’. Bishop Allwyn D’Silva and Fr Peter D’Cunha, Dean of Bhayandar deanery, were also in attendance. All the sessions were held in Marathi.
Fr Joseph Gonsalves, the Head of the AOE, set the ball rolling by making the participants aware about the ecological crisis and its serious consequences. Ms Pamela Fernandes helped the participants understand our interconnectedness with nature and how the abuse of creation can cause serious existential concerns for human beings and all living creatures. In an interactive style and using colloquial terms, Mr Luke Mendes charmed the participants as he explained in simple terms the meaning of climate change and its impact on livelihoods – especially on the fishing and the farming communities. In his address in the Marathi and English languages, Bishop Allwyn D’Silva, Bishop-in-charge of the Green Diocese Initiative, appealed to all the participants to take the issue of climate change seriously and to spread awareness among other lay faithful. He reiterated that responding to the ecological crisis is the mission of the church and hence all Christians must become environmentally conscious and adopt eco-friendly lifestyles.
In the post-lunch session, Fr Joseph Gonsalves presented practical and concrete ways to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle. He briefly explained the Green Diocese Initiative and its five response components as well. The office bearers of the SVP Council have decided to collaborate with the AOE for future activities and programmes.
|Posted by AOE on February 14, 2019 at 7:20 AM|
Programme Report by Dylan D'Souza
The Archdiocese Office for Environment (AOE) in collaboration with Muktisagar Prabodhan Kendra (MSPK), Uttan organised a 'Green Bal Melava' for the six parishes of the Dharavi Island on February 14, 2019 at Our Lady of Vailankanni Shrine, Bhate, Uttan. Inspired by the ‘Green Bal Melava' held last year, Fr Joseph Gonsalves, the Head of the AOE, and Fr Leslie Malya, the Director of MSPK, joined forces to prepare and execute this programme. The entire event was conducted in Marathi. 581 children from standards VII, VIII and IX attended this programme from the parishes of Chowk, Dongri, Gorai, Manori, Pali and Uttan. The work force of about 69 volunteers included the National Social Service team members from St Joseph College Uttan, Confirmation students from the parishes of Uttan and Pali, Sisters, Sunday School catechists and the office staff of Muktisagar, all of whom were instrumental in the successful completion of the event.
The Green Bal Melava began with a meaningful prayer service conducted by Fr Leslie that was based on the Creation story from the Bible and highlighted the need to care for creation. The ice-breakers conducted by Brothers Sunil and Dylan consisted of nature handshakes, making a list of common and eco-friendly items in the group, and a rock-paper-scissor game based on nature that really charged up the children and created a lot of excitement among them. The resource person for the programme, Fr. Joseph Gonsalves, made the children aware of the harm and destruction which humans are causing to nature – both knowingly and unknowingly. He highlighted the causes of such destruction and suggested steps and mechanisms for mitigation. His simple and friendly approach brought in a lot of awareness in the minds of the children, especially avoiding wastage of natural resources. The nurses-in-training from Hinduja College then presented a street play on the use of mobile phones and social media today with a purpose to show how much of unnecessary time and resources are being wasted on the same. With the intention of understanding our role in protecting and preserving our environment, Holy Eucharist was then celebrated by Fr Leslie.
The post-lunch session was highly interactive as the children were engaged in action songs, clicking parish selfies and energisers in the form of wave yells. Children were then sent to their respective groups for case-study discussion based on environment protection and preservation, and were asked to prepare appealing and creative taglines based on their cases through chart work. Fr Joseph encouraged all those who presented their chart work, creating a sense of joy in the hearts of many. Some of the taglines that were presented were really inspiring and creative. Fr Leslie then thanked all those who helped in organising this mega-event. Everyone then proceeded to the grounds for outdoor games followed by the distribution of gifts, a special take-away mug with a message in Marathi. The enthusiastic participation of the children in the various activities and sessions has certainly left an imprint on their minds to be future change agents in protecting and caring for Mother Earth.
|Posted by AOE on January 15, 2019 at 7:10 AM|
I have sung the hymn ‘We are happy Christians’ many times in church, but never has it lingered in my subconscious before, as it did on my return journey from the exposure programme in Nashik organised by the Archdiocesan Office for Environment, Mumbai (AOE). It certainly was drawing my attention to a connect of the lyrics with the Green Diocese Initiative adopted by the Archdiocese of Bombay. As Christians, united under the banner of Our Lord, we have a divine model and an earthly mentor in our effort to ‘Care for Creation’.
We belong to one family... (in our common home – Earth)
Jesus Christ has chosen us….(We are Green Warriors not by chance. We have been chosen by the voice of our conscience to support the initiative of a Green Diocese as envisaged by Bishop Allwyn D’Silva and launched by the Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias on 1st September 2018.)
From the North and… West …. (This rural exposure programme was a follow-up of the workshop in Sarvodaya, Goregaon held September 22-23, 2018, with over 50 participants. 28 participants visited the rural areas of Nashik, wherein eco-friendly practices are implemented on January 5-6 2019.)
And we are delighted… (Yes, it was fun, learning and enlightening.)
Now as Christians --- living in simplicity (We spent 2 days with the villagers and watched their simple uncomplicated, unadulterated lives, unfazed by commercials and sops.)
We must share ---- with those in need (Nature has everything and in enough measure to satisfy everyone’s need if it is not motivated by greed.)
In the footsteps of Our Saviour (Care for Creation of every form of life)
Setting out from St John the Baptist Church, Thane, after a good breakfast, the bus headed to Gangapur Road, Nashik, to Maharashtra Prabodan Seva Mandal (MPSM), an NGO run by the Bombay province of the Jesuits.
Fr Godfrey D’Lima, the Director, explained that the drought in Western Maharashtra had left small farmers insecure, prompting their exodus to the cities in search of jobs. The Jesuits, to the rescue, started various schemes, such as work for food, food for all, water, soil and forest conservation for sustainable agriculture. Bore wells were dug and water made available. Later, through German collaboration, the watershed concept was introduced which is both low-cost and people-centred. Water from rainfall, runoff and streams is caught in tanks or catchment areas called watersheds and made available to the fields.
Methods to prevent soil erosion - Bunding and contour farming have been introduced. Organic farming has helped the farmer get not only a good protected crop but one that is free from chemical fertilisers and pesticides. In this connection, a video demonstration showed us how seeds are treated using a mixture of cow dung, jaggery, turmeric and cow urine. This treatment vitalises the seed, provides a protective bacterial covering, improves yield and enhances pest resistance. Forest waste is used to prepare compost which is an organic manure. After a simple, sumptuous lunch at MPSM, we moved on to our second destination—Taluka Peth which is 48 km away from Nashik.
Patil and Tilak, the resource persons gave us first-hand information on the Watershed pilot project covering both hilly and arid areas, converting them into lush green valleys. Pointing out to a map painted on a wall showing the area-wise division of the taluka, we were informed that 200 villages had been beneficiaries of the Indo-German watershed project. Initially, the villagers were not convinced about the value of the watershed project, and so the women were roped in, thereby creating more jobs and women empowerment.
We walked for about half a kilometre to see the nullah bunding built around the watershed to arrest soil erosion. Making advantageous use of the slope of the land, run-off water was caught in dug-up trenches or watersheds. Day One was a fulfilling experience we would never get from textbooks. We moved to the Shrine of the Infant Jesus, where we had dinner and spent the night.
We began Day Two with mass concelebrated by Bishop Allwyn, Fr Joseph Gonsalves and Fr William (one of our hosts at the Shrine). On the feast of the Epiphany, the three wise men came from the East in search of the baby in the manger. The Bishop urged us to think differently, to have a change in mind-set for a better earth, a better environment in our care for Creation.
After breakfast, we moved to Harsul Village in Trimbakeshwar district, a distance of 51 km from Nashik, for a session on organic farming. Mr Trimbakta, the resource person told us that organic farming depends on crop rotation, vermicompost manure, biological pesticides, etc. Chemical fertilisers and pesticides cause harmful effects to people’s health and the quality of the crop is low, with yield diminishing over time. Paddy, vegetables, fruits, nachni, vari are being cultivated under the organic farming project. We enjoyed a simple healthy meal of rice, dal, and pulses. They introduced us to a machine that separates the rice from the husk which is a great time saving boon to the farmers.
The villagers are a warm and hospitable people. Two days with them, watching their eco-friendly lifestyle was a lesson in itself. How do they keep animals at bay? They hang a transparent bottle of a red liquid at their door. They do not cut down a single tree. Hence it is burial and not cremation for their dead. Trees also help to prevent soil erosion. Then what do they do for fire wood? Naturally fallen twigs/ branches serve this purpose. Dry foliage is left in situ. It helps preserve the nutrients in the soil. Everything they need from food and medicines to their homes and clothes is taken from nature and they use it sparingly, leaving enough for others. They are unaware of disposables. Hence we were served our meals and water in stainless steel plates and glasses. They are far advanced than us in preserving and protecting the Environment. A round of applause to the Green Diocese initiative of the Archdiocese of Bombay for the lead in organising awareness programmes to Care for Creation.
|Posted by AOE on December 7, 2018 at 1:55 PM|
Workshop Report by Shawna Nemesia Rebello
A half-day workshop – Greening of the Archdiocese and Business, was organised by the Archdiocesan Office for Environment, Mumbai together with the Christian Business Forum, Mumbai on 1st December 2018 at Sarvodaya in the St Pius Campus at Goregaon, Mumbai. Sixty-nine people from over fifty organisations participated in this workshop.
Bishop Allwyn D’Silva, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Bombay, recited the opening prayer - Pope Francis’ ‘A Christian Prayer in Union with Creation’ from Laudato Si’. Mr Albert D’Souza of the Christian Business Forum gave the welcome address. He stated that Cardinal Oswald Gracias flagged off “Green Diocese” in the Archdiocese of Bombay on 1st September 2018. Since there is a general perception that the environment is encroached upon by business for commercial gains, Bishop Allwyn wanted an interaction so as to percolate the Green Diocese initiative through business persons as well. In the context of Green Diocese, Mr D’Souza informed that the workshop’s resource person is from the Church, and urged attendees to take green practices into their offices. Fr Joseph Gonsalves, Head of the Archdiocesan Office for Environment, gave participants an overview of the Green Diocese initiative. He emphasised that business persons are an important group that are to be networked with. Fr Joseph acknowledged that there are practical challenges faced by businesses in implementing green practices, and wanted to understand these difficulties from attendees so as to address the challenges together. He requested participants to get their friends and other business people to think about caring for creation as well.
The key resource person for the workshop was Fr Savio Silveira, SDB who is the Vice Provincial of Don Bosco, Mumbai, Director of the environmental organisation GreenLine, and also an activist on the Save Aarey Samiti. Fr Savio gave a talk on ‘Sustainable Businesses and the Environment’. He began with an input on five key global environmental challenges: Climate Change, Pollution, Deforestation, Biodiversity Loss and Waste Disposal. Solutions to these global challenges, he iterated, have to be sought together. As per the Vatican document - Vocation of a Business Leader - business people have been given great resources and the Lord asks them to do great things. The vocation of business leaders is to be an innovator, this Fr Savio iterated, is their first and primary contribution. Next, he put forth broad concepts for the business community to take forward – these five opportunities for innovation include: Renewable Energy, Rethinking Packaging, Circular Economy, Green Products and Green Spaces: Value. Fr Savio urged the business community to intelligently look into where the market is moving and adopt profitable green ventures. He ended by quoting Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ 13, “we know that things can change” - this group of business leaders is powerful and can make this change.
After a short break, ten participants came forward to share their reflections, suggestions, good experiences and green initiatives; some of these were solar installations, plastic upcycling, corrugated coffins. Fr Savio expressed that the interventions from the floor were very good. He informed that the Archdiocesan Office for Environment is tracking changes that occur as a result of the Green Diocese initiative and advocated that the business community share what is happening so that it can be scaled up. Mr Albert D’Souza proposed that such meetings happen annually, to which Bishop Allwyn agreed. The latter suggested that meetings can also be held interest-wise and with sub-groups, such as Greening of Diocese and Transport/Packaging; these could be tailored accordingly. Fr Joseph gave the vote of thanks, mentioning in particular Mr Albert D’Souza, Model Cooperative Bank, the Christian Chamber of Commerce and Dimensions, as well the Vasai Diocese, Bishop Allwyn and Fr Savio. Fr Joseph urged that the participants go back and begin something new, and think and reflect on making our Diocese green. The workshop concluded with lunch, Bishop Allwyn having led everyone in the Grace before meals.