On Saturday Oct. 1, 2016 the Watertown Faith and Ecology Group hosted an interfaith gathering to share how various faith traditions model environmental responsibility, including care for the earth and its inhabitants. The event, held at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse, was a response to Pope Francis’ recommendation in Laudato Si: Care for Our Common Home, that all religions come together to dialogue on ways that we might respond to the environmental crisis of today’s world. Moderator for the Group, Sr. Bethany Fitzgerald SSJ, welcomed more than 50 people to learn from four different faiths how they respond to the “cries of the poor and the earth.” Father Philip Yanulis spoke on the Orthodox faith tradition; Rabbi Teresa Snyder on the Jewish tradition; Mother Anne Wichelns on the Anglican tradition and Khalid Pervaiz Sindhu, M. D. on the Islamic traditions. As the panelists concluded, what became evident was how each faith not only teaches care for the earth, but strives for justice and peace on earth, by living and acting on behalf of all life and advancing harmonious human civilization.
The participants then moved outdoors where a peace pole, donated by the Anglican Church of Christ the King, Watertown NY was blessed by Anglican Archbishop Peter Goodrich of Niagara Falls, Ontario. The portable Peace Pole, inscribed in eight different languages: “May peace reign on the earth”, may be borrowed by religious groups to be used in their place of worship for one month. Any domination that would like to have the pole at their location, may contact Fr. Douglas Marlow (315-408-9032). Ann Thomas led those in attendance in a blessing of a red maple tree. This tree, donated and planted by Jake’s Lawn Service of Watertown, is a symbol of the beauty of creation and represents a concrete action that will help to heal the earth. The ceremony was concluded with the Native American Mohawk Prayer of Thanksgiving. Everyone was then invited inside to enjoy Harvest snacks of donuts and apples from our local area. Burrville Cider Mill donated cider to go with our snacks.
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