BY ISN STAFF | September 20, 2019
[updated September 23, 2019]
On Friday, September 20, 2019, students around the world stepped out of their classrooms to unite with their global peers demanding action on climate change. The Global Climate Strike’s timing strategically comes just days before the world leaders gather for the United Nations climate summit.
In the U.S. and beyond, numerous Jesuit and other Catholic institutions, parishes, and communities joined in the strikes, some utilizing ISN’s Ignatian Carbon Challenge Climate Strike resources, designed in collaboration with the Jesuit Conference of Canada and U.S.’s Office of Justice and Ecology to assist network members as they pray, act, and advocate for climate change prioritization.Two of the core tenets of Jesuit education are the call to help students become women and men for others and to form and educate agents of change in the world. The global climate strikes provide an educational moment within the context of world events. “We believe it is important to mark this day, using Ignatian spirituality and pedagogy as the frame for our participation,” shared Brenna Davis, ISN’s director of environmental initiatives.
The call to action of the youth-led climate strikes is particularly relevant for Jesuit institutions in light of the recently promulgated Universal Apostolic Preferences, which ask Jesuits and Ignatian ministries to look toward new horizons in the next ten years. Especially relevant to the climate strikes are the preferences that call us to “accompany the young in the creation of a hope-filled future” and “to collaborate in the care of our Common Home.” In the UAPs, General Superior Sosa states, “Young people continue opening up to the future with the hope of building a life of dignity in a reconciled world that is in harmony with the environment. It is the young who, from their perspective, can help us to understand better the epochal change that we are living and its hope-filled newness.”
Below, the ISN staff has compiled a summary of ways that network institutions and individuals have worked to live out these preferences through Global Climate Strike engagement. This listing is ongoing—tell us about your involvement here to be added to this story.
Boston College student organizations Climate Justice BC and Ecopledge of Boston College united more than 80 students from a host of student groups for a campus demonstration and march to City Hall and the Massachusetts State House, joining with a group from Boston College High School. [Photo courtesy of Kyle Rosenthal]
Brebeuf Jesuit in Indianapolis, Indiana held a school climate strike in connection with the Global Climate Strike on their athletic fields. The event was organized by the school’s conservation club to show the importance of climate action. [Photo via Brebeuf Jesuit/Instagram]
The Canisius College Project Conservation Club and other members of the campus community, including Mike Hayes, director of campus ministry, used public transportation to join the Buffalo Climate Strike. Speakers included a Canisius alum and other local climate activists. [Photo courtesy of Mike Hayes]
Cheverus High School participated in the Portland, Maine Climate Strike. “There is no longer a debate about climate change, too much is at stake not to take action,” said Mary King, campus minister. “Nothing the kids could have learned in school today was as important as putting faith into action with hundreds of other students in southern Maine crying out for universal climate justice and for the health of Maine’s ecosystems.” [Photo courtesy of Cheverus High School]
Creighton University students attended the Omaha Climate Strike. [Photo via Creighton SCSJ/Twitter]
Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Milwaukee theology teacher Colleen Quigley discussed the Global Climate Strike in light of Catholic Social Teaching and the UAPs, with particular attention to how climate change affects the most vulnerable in our society. Her class also spent time with lights off in the classroom, discussing how to better care for the environment as a Cristo Rey Milwaukee community. [Photo courtesy of Colleen Quigley]
Fordham University’s Campus Ministry marked the Climate Strike by closing their office, making a sign, and sitting on the campus main lawn during the duration of the NYC strike, which was attended by a number of Fordham students. “We sat on Edward’s Parade as students walked from class to class, participating in the small way that we could during this important worldwide demonstration,” shared Gil Severiano, campus ministry administrator. “This year Campus Ministry is focusing on the priorities of Immigration Reform and Care for Our Common Home in deeds, which means when the world came together to strike on September 20th, our office protested in solidarity.” [Photo courtesy of Gil Severiano]
Gonzaga College High School students joined with other Washington, D.C., area Catholic schools and organizations for a student-led prayer service at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and march to the U.S. Capital. Senior Ben Campion gave a powerful speech in which he said, “We have been given special dignity and the power of self-awareness to be the conscience and heart of the natural world. The requires living with each other in a reduce, reuse, repair society, instead of a make, take, waste one.” [Photo courtesy of Shannon Berry Sullivan]
Global Climate Strikes are taking place all over the world today, and some of our Lions from LMU Eco Students are headed to Los Angeles’ youth-led event to demand action on climate change. #ClimateStrike #GlobalClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/kQJw8TIx3I
— Loyola Marymount University (@LoyolaMarymount) September 20, 2019
Students at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon participated in the Portland Climate Strike. The school also prayed at the Mass of the Holy Spirit for our Common Home, the Earth, and the leaders whose decisions impact its health and collected donations to support St Francis de Sales, the Catholic high school in the Abacos region of the Bahama Islands, which was decimated by Hurricane Dorian. The school also built raised garden beds, which will be blessed after the October 4 liturgy for the Feast of St. Francis and marking the end of the Season of Creation.
The campus has also made a commitment to Aat to reduce greenhouse emissions by:
-Shutting off lights during 5th period across campus
-Encouraging students and staff to bring meatless meals and serving only meatless meals in the cafeteria on Fridays
-Encouraging students and staff to bike, take public transportation, or carpool to school
-Encouraging JHS educators to offer climate literacy in their curricula, as appropriate, to help students think critically about this pressing topic
-Advocating by providing a space on the school website for students, staff, or members of the community to send emails to local, state, and national representatives asking them to support legislation which supports effectively caring for our common home.
The Loyola University Maryland Environmental Action Club coordinated a climate strike and mini teach-in for members of the campus and greater Baltimore communities. The event took place on the campus quad with speakers from departments across the university who shared why a unified response to the realities of climate change is so important. Along with the teach-in, event sponsors were present at information tables, including BEElieve, a group on campus focused on local awareness and action to protect bees, as well as the school’s Office of Sustainability, which shared Loyola’s brand new comprehensive Climate Action Plan. [Photo courtesy of Loyola University Maryland Environmental Action Club]
Nativity Preparatory School in Boston joined in the Global Climate Strike as a way to be in solidarity with young people around the world. “The students of Nativity Prep all come from families of low economic income who are also the most likely to be adversely affected by the problems of climate change,” said school president Brian Maher. “The students all wanted to be a part of this global movement for urgent and meaning full climate action.” [Photo courtesy of Nativity Preparatory School]
The STAND Social Justice Club at Notre Dame School of Manhattan, an ISN member institution, united with Xavier High School to bring a group of students and teachers to the New York City Global Climate Strike march. STAND was formed by four students after attending ISN’s Arrupe Leaders Summit. They have planned a follow up forum and activities for the week following the strike.
— John Sakulich (@JohnSakulich) September 20, 2019
Rockhurst LEAP, the environmental and sustainability student organization at Rockhurst University, organized a student group to attend the Kansas City Climate Strike. [photo via Kate Ludwig ’21/Instagram]
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The Church of Saint Francis Xavier in New York City gathered with friends from Metro New York Catholic Climate Movement other faith communities at St. Paul’s Church for coffee, sign-making, and a prayerful send-off prior to the NYC Climate Strike. The parish is also marking the Season of Creation throughout the month of September, coordinated by the church’s Environment Ministry, focused on the themes of reduce, reuse, recycle, and refuse. [Image via Church of Saint Francis Xavier/Facebook]
Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio participated in a climate strike hosted by the Catholic Schools for Peace & Justice, a consortium of the social justice clubs from 20 Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Cleveland. About 150 students, faculty and community members attended the march.
The school will celebrate the Global Week for Our Common Home (9/23 – 9/27/19) with daily activities including a “lights out” day, prayer, advocacy, an alternative transportation day, neighborhood clean up, tree planting, and “meatless Friday.” [Photo courtesy of Guy Savastano]
Saint Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, NJ kept lights off in the school’s campus ministry lounge, main office, and library in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike. “As a Catholic, Jesuit school we felt it was very important for us to take part in the Climate Strike, even in a small way,” said John Dougherty, director of campus ministry. “We want our students to use what they’re learning here to respond to the world’s needs, and it’s clear that climate change is one of the most pressing needs that our world faces right now. We themed our morning prayer around the strike today as well, because we want our students to understand that this isn’t only a scientific or political issue, it’s also a call to put our faith into action.” [Photo courtesy of John Dougherty]
The University of Detroit Mercy University Ministry coordinated a delegation to the Detroit Climate Strike, initiated by student interest. [Photo courtesy of William Myers, campus minister]
University of San Francisco students and faculty joined the San Francisco Climate Strike. In a story published by USF, Lisa Farmos ’21, said she wants politicians to “pay attention to the science and stop feeding us talking points. I want to see action.” [Image via the University of San Francisco]
University of San Francisco’s University Ministry/Center for Ignatian Spirituality invited members of the campus community to sign a poster making a specific community toward sustainability in solidarity with the Climate Strike. [photo via USF University Ministry/Instagram]
Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio “participated in the Climate Strike in order to reduce the carbon emissions that enter into the atmosphere,” shared Mia Novak, a current student. “Our school chose to turn off a majority of lights in the building to catch people’s attention and make known to everyone that even seemingly small actions can help protect our Earth.”