|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.