By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
CORALVILLE — Sunday coffee and doughnut events are a tradition at St. Thomas More Parish. Until recently, so was the use of disposable cups.
Inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, the parish now uses washable mugs and volunteers take turns washing the dishes.
It’s one of many projects the parish’s new Laudato Si group hopes to take on to help the parish and its members become more earth-friendly.
It started before Lent this year when Evalee “Lee” Mickey of the parish’s Social Action Commission suggested a group study on the encyclical. “Lee had read about the Laudato Si encyclical and brought up at a regular meeting that we should consider hosting a class to study Laudato Si,” recalled commission member Cecilia Roudebush. The group decided the six weeks of Lent would be a good time frame for the class.
About 14 people participated in each event, which included instructional videos and other resources. Roudebush said about half of the participants were Social Action Commission members. The other half were newcomers and some came from different churches.
Roudebush said the class invigorated the Laudato Si study group and left them wanting more, so the members decided to continue meeting and to put the encyclical into action. “We were floored the week that we learned (Pope Francis) actually had 17 guidelines for change. We wouldn’t have to think up how to move toward his ideals; he’d already made our list! We also learned that every single one of us who was attending was passionate about the same things Pope Francis was stating.”
The group now meets the third Sunday of the month. The first project was designing an announcement to be printed in St. Thomas More’s bulletin each week. The announcements, titled “Caring for Our Common Home: Serving the Earth, Serving Each Other,” include Pope Francis’ picture, a quote from Laudato Si and an environmental tip. The first bulletin announcement appeared on Earth Day weekend. The phasing out of disposable coffee cups was among the initial projects.
The group would like to encourage other parishes in their “care for the earth” endeavors by offering resources that the Coralville group used during the six-week study. They also invite people in the area to consider joining the group. Moving forward, “we will be actively looking to promote care of the earth AND each other through volunteer events and advocating for social change,” Roudebush said.
The St. Thomas More Laudato Si group would like to share the resources they used during the six-week study. Contact Lee Mickey at (319) 665-9769 or firstname.lastname@example.org.