Our new Cultivating Care for Our Common Home program seeks to strengthen efforts to renew the sacred balance in our interrelated world. In his 2015 letter, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis addresses every person living on this planet and appeals for a new dialogue and a new solidarity that includes everyone in the work of caring for our common home. He calls the world’s attention to a growing ecological and social imbalance that results in destructive impacts felt to the greatest extent by those who are most vulnerable — people struggling with poverty, future generations, and our wider family of living beings. Pope Francis names the roots of this imbalance as a profound ethical, cultural, and spiritual crisis. In response, he invites all of us to “set out on the long path of renewal” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ #202, 14, 119, 161…).
The Cultivating Care for Our Common Home program offers interactive presentations, workshops, and collaboration to Catholic parishes and other interested groups in Toronto who would like to explore and respond more deeply to Pope Francis’ call that everyone living on the planet actively engage in caring for our common home.
Program activities invite participants to cultivate care for our common home by:
preparing the ground of one’s heart in prayer;
developing ecological awareness, practices, and spirituality;
fostering the growth of a culture of care, especially for the vulnerable;
seeking and deepening relationships for neighbourhood, ecumenical, and interfaith collaboration.
Faith & the Common Good is proud to be a founding member of Fossil Free Faith (FFF), an interfaith Canadian fossil fuel divestment network.
About Fossil Free Faith
FFF is an multi-faith consortium made up of passionate volunteers from around Canada supporting and engaging one another and our faith institutions about climate justice, fossil fuel divestment / reinvestment, and the role of bold faith in strengthening our shared future.
We connect organizations, faith groups, and resources working for climate justice and fossil fuel divestment/reinvestment.
Our 2016 annual forum focused on bridging two areas that are deeply important to our members — reconciliation with First Peoples and climate justice. Many in our interfaith network want to work more closely with First Nations communities on local climate issues, but aren’t sure how to go about it. This forum (and its action oriented follow-up work) was designed to create connections to support one another in the challenge of caring for our natural environment and what Indigenous allyship would mean. The forum was held in Waterloo, Ontario and hosted by Faith & the Common Good, Divest Waterloo, the Green Awakening Network and the Centre for Public Ethics at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, with funding support from the Justice and Reconciliation Fund of the United Church of Canada.
We need to return to the original relationships. That was the repeated message heard at the forum. These relationships involve taking care of Mother Earth in tandem with revisiting the cordial, peaceful beginnings of our settlers’ and first peoples’ interactions.
Resource conservation is just one aspect of greening; when we approach it from a faith-based perspective, we consider our role as stewards of natural resources and the sacredness of these resources.
Water is life; it is hydration, habitat, and health. Our faith traditions teach us to revere this resource, to give thanks when it is abundant and to cherish it when it is scarce.
We have been working with the Sacred Water Circle in central Ontario for a number of years, helping to bring attention to the sacredness of water and our role as stewards of water protection. Inspired by traditional Indigenous teachings and leading with hope and spiritual courage, the Sacred Water Circle sees a restored relationship between human communities and water.
Through these relationships, we became one of the founding partners in the Great Lakes Water Walk, held in Toronto in September 2017. The Great Lakes Water Walk invited people from all backgrounds to join Indigenous Grandmothers, Knowledge Holders and Elders to share and re-awaken our commitment to safeguarding the water by walking together along the Toronto waterfront. By sharing the Indigenous practice of honouring and giving thanks to those same Lakes, The Great Lake Water Walk was an invitation to pause and reflect upon what we can do individually and collectively to ensure the health and well-being of our waters for generations to come.
We will continue to support Sacred Water Walking as a powerful way to respect and honor Nibi (water). By walking together under the ceremonial leadership of Indigenous Grandmothers, Knowledge Holders and Elders, we acknowledge the strength, resilience and resurgence of Indigenous women as ‘keepers of the water’. We walk in solidarity and recognition of First Peoples, who have been on the frontlines in the struggle to respect and protect the waters for future generations. Together, praying with our feet, we will walk towards love and a better future for all.
In 2018, we are praying with our feet by suppporting:
the Niigaani-Gichigami (Lake Ontario) Gratitude Walk & Festival in June, organized by the Toronto Urban Native Ministry, St James Cathedral, and the Niigaani-Gichigami Collective
the All Nations Grand River Water Walk in September
Here are more details on our water programs, partners, and project suggestions:
Great Lakes Water Walk
On Sunday, September 24, 2017, Anishinaabeg Grandmothers led hundreds of participants in a ceremonial water walk along Toronto’s waterfront trail, with blessing stops at Toronto’s four river deltas (Credit, Humber, Rouge, Don). This Indigenous ceremonial walk was an invitation to pause and reflect upon what we can do individually and collectively to ensure the health and well-being of our waters. At the close of the walk, respected Elders Dr. Shirley Williams and Grandmother Josephine Mandamin, led a multi-cultural, multi-faith water blessing of the Great Lakes at Marilyn Bell Park, assisted by Elders and Leaders representing all facets of the Toronto community. Read more…
Sacred Water Circle
Inspired by traditional Indigenous teaching and leading with hope and spiritual courage, the Sacred Water Circle sees a restored relationship between human communities and water.
The 2014 Sacred Water Circle Gathering hosted a Ceremony of the Arts presentation, an evening celebration of song, dance and film offered to the Spiritual Elders and Community Leaders in gratitude for sharing their knowledge with the gathering participants.
The event featured five young women of The Ridpath Singers, giving a debut performance for these grade 5 students without the support of the other singers, drummers and teachers.
It was an exceptional highlight of the Gathering to hear young Anishinaabeg voices; something we plan to do lot more of as a community moving forward in action to protect sacred water for future generations.
Water Conservation and Education in your Faith Community
World Water Day, March 22nd, is an opportunity to raise awareness of and action on water issues.
You can start with celebration and appreciation of your favourite body of water. Photos: “My favourite body of water is… ”
Organize a stream, lake, or pond clean-up; join or support a local riverkeeper or watershed conservation group. Look for a cleanup event near you at www.shorelinecleanup.caor search www.waterkeeper.org for a local waterkeeper or riverkeeper group for a place to start. BC, Ontario, Labrador, New Brunswick and Alberta have waterkeeper groups, many conservation authorities have watershed protection events, and most regions have creek, river, or shoreline cleanup events.
Explore the water use and conservation practices of other faith traditions by hosting a multi-faith water event, or undertake an assessment of water use at your home or place of worship. Reflect on the sacred use of water in ablutions, baptism, mikva’ot, and other sacred ceremonies and practices.
Encourage outdoor conservation and protection of water by promoting the use of rain barrels, landscaping with drought-resistant plants, and avoiding the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
Host a water presentation on watersheds, stewardship, or pollution prevention.
Water as health, habitat, and hydration is also an issue of sustainability and social justice. Below is a display of faith community members pledging not to use bottled water as part of an awareness campaign about the commodification of water and unsustainable sales of bottled water. Bottled water uses a tremendous amount of fossil fuels in bottle production and transportation, and is often sourced in a manner that undermines sustainability of aquifers and public water supplies. Most plastic water bottles end up in landfills; recycling is better but is still wasteful compared to tap water.
A bottled water free campaign can be paired with social justice studies and activism to draw attention to and support for communities within and without Canada who have no access to clean water and for whom boil water alerts and bottled water imports are a costly necessity.