2024-05-17 UNITED STATES

USA Marist held second annual Marist Earth Day Weekend

Almost 100 students, teachers, the Staff and leaders from various USA Province Marist schools, as well as Brothers participated in the second annual Marist Earth Day Weekend held from April 19-21 at the Marist Brothers Center at Esopus, New York. Br. Dan O’Riordan, provincial, opened the weekend with an evening prayer.

The Weekend directed by Mr. Sam King, USA Province Ecology Coordinator, aims to encourage local meetings and actions throughout the various Province locations. And bring together student leaders from Marist schools in solidarity for our common home.  And encourage local meetings and actions throughout the various Province locations. The First Marist-USA Earth Day week-end was April 21-23, 2023 also at Marist Brothers Center at Esopus, NY.

The program began with an overview of Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on the environment, and the seven principles laying the foundations for an ethic of integral ecology. These include the Response to the Cry of the Earth, the Response to the Cry of the Poor, Adoption of Sustainable Lifestyles, Ecological Education, Ecological Economics, Ecological Spirituality, and Community Resilience and Empowerment.

“Earth Day Weekend at Esopus was an affirmation of the strength, concern, and care that our young people have for our common Earth,” said Joanne Cavera, former chair of the Science Department and Green Team representative at St. Joseph Regional. “

The second day of the gathering featured all plant-based meals prepared by Br. Dan O’Riordan, Provincial of the USA Marist Brothers, along with a range of outdoor programming. In the morning, students walked down to the Hudson River for a special prayer gathering led by Evan Pritchard, an Indigenous Mi’kmaq elder and former professor of Native Studies at Marist College. Austin Bilotto, a Teacher of Environmental Science at Marist High School in Chicago, then guided students in a case study on the environmental history of the Hudson River, highlighting the ecological importance of estuaries, the effects of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) pollution from industrial plants, and recent efforts to remediate the river. After, Joanne Cavera led students in a workshop on native planting to underscore the importance of food security and the health of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Students then worked together to plant a native food forest with apples, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. They also planted an indoor herb garden for the kitchen using a wooden box crafted by Director of Maintenance and Facilities, Tyler Pereira. In the afternoon, students took part in four workshops on various topics of integral ecology. Henry Glynn, a Religion teacher at St. Joseph Academy Brownsville, offered a workshop on climate action, drawing on his years of experience with the Catholic Climate Covenant. Damian Sciano, an alumnus of Archbishop Molloy and energy expert, led a workshop on the transition to a clean energy future. Bridgette Bolduc, a Teacher of Science and Religion at Central Catholic, guided students in a contemplative forest walk at nearby Black Creek. That evening, students took part in a special Earth Day program from the Catholic Climate Covenant called “Healing Our Throwaway Culture: Focus on Plastics.”

During the program, students learned about the life cycle of plastics, its harmful effects on human health and the biosphere, and strategies for mitigating and managing plastic waste in their communities. After nightfall, students gathered around a campfire for marshmallows and storytelling led by Matt Fallon, Director of Marist Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

On Sunday morning, students joined for Mass and shared action plans they hope to bring forth in their home communities. These included planting native gardens, expanding recycling campaigns, and promoting reusable bottles.

“The students have gone back to their school communities and demonstrated what they shared—for example, by working to create pollinator-friendly native plant gardens,” said Joanne Cavera. “The youth are our hope for a bright future for God’s creation.”

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