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Growing up, I am slightly embarrassed to say my limited understanding of Earth Day was limited to the catchy saying, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” However, it was not until late summer of 2015 when I first read Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si,” that I began to realize the responsibility as a Christian — and for all people — to care about the plight of our planet and how we treat it.

Every year on April 22, people around the world celebrate Earth Day. This day marks the beginning of the environmental movement that began in 1970. The past 53 years have resulted in many policy changes and educational opportunities to lead people all over the globe to greater awareness of the many environmental issues facing our planet.

Part of the beauty and truth of this document given by the Holy Father is the necessary reminder that negative, even dire consequences of global warming and related issues, always affect the poor the most. As followers of Jesus, this is not something that we can ignore or dismiss as a “political issue.” It creates horrendous consequences for the poor and vulnerable around the planet.

Furthermore, his first encyclical, “Redemptoris Hominis,” Pope John Paul II reminds us of the role God gave us in caring for his creation 

“Exploitation of the earth … and the uncontrolled development of technology … often bring with them a threat to man’s natural environment, alienate him in his relations with nature and remove him from nature. Man often seems to see no other meaning in his natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption. Yet it was the Creator’s will that man should communicate with nature as an intelligent and noble ‘master’ and ‘guardian’, and not as a heedless ‘exploiter’ and ‘destroyer.’” 

Part of our social responsibility is to be aware of how our choices have a wider reaching effect on the poor, vulnerable, and our common home. As we draw near to the annual celebration of Earth Day, there are many great ways we can educate ourselves as Catholics to continue our commitment to good stewardship of our Earth. United in both prayer and action, we can become more responsible for our planet.


Enjoy Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in the United States, (and a practicing Catholic!) delivering her poem “Earthrise”

Catholic Relief Services has an incredible video resource called “Catholic Teaching 101” — watch this video to get a brief summary of Catholic teaching on caring for God’s creation.


Here are several wonderful websites to educate yourself and find practical ways to engage yourself and your family in our communal work of caring for our planet.

Earth Day – the official website for Earth Day. This includes resources, ways to action, and statistics to help us understand the crisi facing our planet.

Encyclical Letter Laudato Si (On Care for Our Common Home) – The encyclical written by Pope Francis on our care for our common home.

Laudato Si Action Platform – Inspired by Pope Francis encyclical, where Catholics around the global can commit to the work of Laudato Si. People around the globe can share their “Laudato Si” plan and how they will work to help ease the suffering of our planet.

Laudato Si Discussion Guide – A resource study guide to live and apply the teachings of Laudato Si. It includes prayer and reflections, discussion questions and action items.

Catholic Climate Covenant -resource website for the non-profit group located in Washington DC. This website includes resources, different ways to engage in fighting climate change as Catholics, and voices from Church teaching and Scripture that highlight the importance of this work.


  • Make a financial donation to an environmental non-profit.
  • Join a Bird Count and help with scientific research in your local community — it is as easy as going outside for 15 minutes and recording the types and number of birds you see.
  • Trade in your plasticwear for reusable gear.
  • Support local agriculture and buy produce from a local farmer. 
  • Buy and donate to local thrift stores
  • Ask yourself before making purchases, “Do I really need this?” Laudato Si calls us to “replace consumption with sacrifice,” and to “gradually move away from what I want to what the world needs.”
  • Plant a vegetable or herb garden.
  • Consider zero-waste versions of household products like cotton paper towels or reusable coffee filters.
  • Clean your home with ecological and biodegradable products.
  • Try limiting your shower to the length of time that your favorite song lasts.
  • Plant a tree.
  • Sign the Healthy Planet, Healthy People petition.
  • Reduce your consumption of meat or go meatless on particular days (traditionally the Church has done this on Fridays!).
  • Every night before going to bed, unplug unused electrical appliances.
  • Replace fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs with LED lights to use less energy.
  • Turn off lights after leaving a room to conserve energy.
  • Use your purchasing power wisely and buy from companies that are dedicated to environmental responsibility.
  • Educate yourself on the Native Lands you live and recreate on.

Ideas for Children

  • Use particular Scripture verses that speak of creation in conversation with the little ones in your life. Psalm 104 is a great place to start or the famous Canticle of the Sun by St. Francis of Assisi. Other good options could be Genesis 1:1-2:3, Genesis 9:8-13 and Psalm 148.
  • Read the stories of saints who loved God’s creation. While St. Francis of Assisi is the most easily recognizable one that comes to mind, there are many other ones to learn about with the tiny humans in your life. St. Martin de Porres was a veterinarian and a friend to all animals. St. Felix took care of the spiders, while St. Kentigern even brought a bird back to life. St. Kateri Tekawitha was the first canonized Indigenous person and is known as a patron saint o the study of ecology. St. Hildegard was known as a skilled botanist, and Pope John Paul II as a young priest led groups of young adults on camping trips as retreats in the mountains of Zakopane.

Caring for our planet should not be an issue that divides us as Catholics. Our God and our Church collectively teach and call us to be good stewards of the earth and its resources. If we don’t take care of it, who will? What kind of future will we leave to our children and future generations? How will our choices continue to have drastic effects on the poorest of the poor?

We must respond with urgency — together — with prayer and action.