'Respect for Creation' must be encouraged, say all head teachers of Catholic schools in the Southend Deanery of Brentwood Diocese after discussing Environment and Faith at their annual retreat day, held at New Hall School in Chelmsford on 1 March.
Climate Change was a key area highlighted by Ellen Teague of the Columban Justice and Peace Team in her presentation at the beginning of the day. Few other issues facing the world today are of such pervasive and long-term significance as the need to find ways of living within the resource limits of the planet, she suggested. Questions concerning environment, social justice and sustainable development are important for the future of human society and it is important for young people to engage with them. Increasing environmental awareness in schools, plus cooperation and networking between schools is vital for building a sustainable future. In discussion afterwards, the head teachers agreed that they hoped to instil in their students a sense of appreciation for God’s Creation, the need for stewardship, and the moral obligation to care for creation and the common good, based on Catholic Social Teaching.
Initiatives already underway in the schools of Southend Deanery include the ‘plough to plate’ programme – the provision of organic food in one school in partnership with a farm. Another was participating in CAFOD’s Family Fast Day on 2 March with its focus on Water. Travel to school policies were being reviewed in several schools. The secondary schools flagged up the national curriculum coverage of environment and development issues, including a focus on Climate Change in Geography, Science, Technology, Art and Design. Some schools were already part of the Eco-schools programme and the other schools undertook to audit their current practice in sustainability.
The head teachers said: “During our special day of learning and prayer this year we explored how, we, as head teachers, might encourage respect for God’s creation, mindful that it is God who holds the universe in being at each moment of time. To allow the destruction of this world is sinful. To work towards its continued harmony is a great good.”
The head teachers also considered a number of other topics during the day and their Dean celebrated Mass for the group.
‘Schools and the Environment’ section of the Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales website can be found here: www.cbcew.org.uk/page.aspx?pid=595
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