“If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.” — Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Day fo Peace, 2010
On Saturday, October 11th, young people drawn from the Western Deanery of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa came together in a forum, on Catholic teaching on care of creation and environmental sustainability. The ‘St. Francis of Assisi Youth Forum on Care of Creation’, was organized as part of the formation program of the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA), but also marking the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of Ecology.
The youth were empowered to take care of the creation as mandated by God, in order to avoid environmental degradation and harsh effects that come along with climate change which poses a big threat to biodiversity.
A section of participants at the Mombasa youht forum
We had a brilliant opening session from the CYNESA Executive Director, Mr. Allen Ottaro who took us through what CYNESA is all about and the dream of making each person to be responsible for the environment. He also talked about the #fastfortheclimate campaign,an initiative which invites people to fast on the first day of every month, as a way of expressing solidarity with the communities that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. “Youth are inspired to come together, in an initiative that is spiritually grounded, in order to achieve a common goal of ecology conservation. Saint John Paul II reminded us that it is our collective responsibility to care for the environment. We as young people should start where we are, do what we can and with the resources we have to care for creation”, Mr. Ottaro said in his concluding remarks.
Brother John from the Mombasa Caritas office and a member of the Order of St. Joseph, spoke about the Biblical teaching of nature conservation. We discovered that as young Catholics, we should lead by example by acknowledging the glory of His righteousness and wonders of His love by spreading affection and service not forgetting creation. When God created the world and nature, He saw it beautiful and mandated us to take care of it. It is expected of us to build a relationship with the Holy Trinityand develop a sense of how we are called to respond to God’s love through creation.
Kelly leads the tree planting session
A tree planting session immediately after lunch break at the St. Mary’s Catholic Church compound in Changamwe. In attendance was Fr. Kalua, the Parish priest and Fr. Anjeru the Archdiocesan Youth Chaplain
The afternoon session was dedicated to an interactive session led by Anne Kirori, a CYNESA core team member from Nairobi, on what knowledge we had acquired earlier in the day. We got to understand the roles of young people in caring for creation as to love creation and know the benefits that come with nature conservation, planting more trees, planting mangroves along ocean shores, organizing beach cleanups, involving the community in environmental conservation, involving organizations to incorporate youth groups in facilitation of environmental sustainability trainings and projects, waste disposal and management and utilization of organic fertilizers as opposed to chemical ones among others. Each participant of the forum was equipped with helpful knowledge on environmental conservation.
The CYNESA-Kenya Country Director, Ms.Balla Galma, wrapped up the day by fielding questions from the participants and thanking them for their cooperation and a vote of thanks was given by Mr.Kelly Ngeti, the local organizer and Coast region coordinator. The Parish Priest, Fr. Kalua, celebrated the Eucharist for the parish children and the forum participants, urging the children to follow in the footsteps of their seniors, noting that they will be youth in the future.
MERCI BEAUCOUP CYNESA!!!!ASANTE SANA CYNESA!!!
By Cynthia Ogeya, CYNESA Member, Miritini Parish, Mombasa