2021-10-04 PUERTO RICO

Raising ecological awareness in Manatí

The Marist College ‘El Salvador’ in Manatí, Puerto Rico, of the Central America Province, is carrying out various initiatives to raise awareness among students of the need to care for our common home, in accordance with the calls of the General Chapter of the Marist Institute and echoing the invitation of Pope Francis.

As Marists, we want to live this year with hope, but not an easy or naive hope, but deeply Christian. We want to awaken in our young people the desire to build the future here and now, to fill it with life, light and joy, like the little plant that makes its way through the tar. As Marists, we dream that more and more people commit to walk together in the generation of a more humane society, more attentive to those most in need, more in communion with Creation, that is, more of God”, Br. Edgardo Lopez, President of the Colegio Marista “El Salvador”.

Some initiatives promoted by the College are:

  • Grade 12 students have proposed initiatives to be implemented at the College throughout the year, related to improvements to the green areas and the species that inhabit it, so that they can attract butterflies and other creatures.
  • Girl Scout Troop 053 and Scout Pack 92 were cleaning the beach at La Cueva de las Golondrinas.
  • From the 1st to the 4th of September the students have celebrated “The days to promote the encyclical Laudato Si” and several activities took place in the Religion classes.
  • Several 4th and 5th grade students took part in the Nature Immersion Workshop at Hacienda La Esperanza in Manatí. They learned about beekeeping, sustainable agriculture, projects to protect the sand dunes, the history of La Hacienda.

The school has 560 students and an educational community of 49 teachers and 2 Brothers.

Acting is urgent Laudato Si’

José Enrique Alvarado Piñero is a 12th grade student at the school. He has started an initiative in which other Marist students are taking part. Below are his comments, which tell the story of this project.


Faced with the historic moment of the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt an urgent need to give myself to others. I meditated and realised that the greatest gift I could give to others was to transfer to them all the scientific and ecological knowledge I had absorbed during my 15 years of self-sustaining life in the countryside of Morovis, Puerto Rico.

I created an initiative called “ACTUAR ES URGENTE LAUDATO SI” in which I invited the Marist youth to my eco-sustainable farm following all the protocols of the Government of Puerto Rico and Covid19 vaccination. My aim was to fill them with hope and love in the face of the difficult times experienced by the pandemic and the past 5 years on our island. Twenty-six young people responded to the call, to whom I transferred concepts from Laudato Si’ together with everything I have learned since my childhood. We had the support of several scientists and professors from the University of Puerto Rico.

In the months of June and July 2021 the young people managed to create ecological awareness based on scientific research accompanied by self-sustainability practices in the countryside and in the sea.

In this way, habitats were created that proved to be oases of survival for pollinators, sea turtles, corals and others. Many of these animals are threatened or endangered. 

The sustainable life cycle of several pollinators that are essential for the world’s food security has now been created. In addition, the practices were documented for graduation purposes for members who were in their fourth year (12th).

I confess that my 15 years of life in the field is rooted in the philosophy of St. Marcellin Champagnat and St. Francis of Assisi. Surprisingly they are directly connected to Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, written 6 years ago.

As I look back it is worth noting that both St. Francis of Assisi and our founder, St. Marcellin Champagnat felt the call to give themselves to others at a time of social, political, economic, cultural and Church crisis in the locality of their countries of Italy and France, specifically in their green fields full of nature. I realise that this is how I felt, but in my little camp in Morovis, Puerto Rico in the year 2021.

I am very familiar with the style that Pope Francis calls for in the encyclical “Laudato si” and it is my greatest wish to be able to join and propose it to all humanity.  My great mission and that of all the members of the initiative “ACTING IS URGENT LAUDATO SI” is to make the encyclical “LAUDATO SI” known with humility, simplicity and modesty. To demonstrate once again that great transformations are born in the crisis. My dream is that the initiative will be inherited by future generations. A healthy planet and a healthy life is possible when we all row together in the same direction.


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