• Gabrielle Hendricks

Mount Going Green with Laudato Si’

Mount St. Mary’s has officially adopted Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ Action Plan. The university incorporated this plan into the campus culture which calls for the body of Christ to protect and dignify the environment. Laudato Si’ at the Mount will broaden students’ horizons about respecting nature, being in tune with our world and strengthening the Mount’s mission to create students who lead lives of significance in service to God and others.

As requested by the Vatican, Mount St. Mary’s joined the body of Catholic organizations to adopt the Laudato Si’ Action Plan. The plan calls for the church as one body to get involved in creating sustainability for the environment and protecting it. As society is now experiencing the drastic effects of climate change, many communities are suffering the consequences of humanity polluting the earth. It is a Catholic duty to help contribute to the protection of the environment.

Environmental science professor and chair of the Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Committee (ESSC), Dr. Abigail Kula, was enthused when she heard that the Mount adopted Laudato Si’. She said, “I was very excited when it first came out in 2015. I was attending the national ecology conference that year, it was really big at that professional conference, I have been able to use it in every science class that I teach.” As an environmental science scholar, Kula understands the importance of conserving nature and maintaining its healthy state.

It is not only important for science students to adopt Laudato Si’ but for students of all majors to understand the importance of protecting the environment. This plan is philosophical, political, social and economic. Kula emphasizes, “Anytime we can bring that to campus and expose our students to the fact these are important issues to address, not just in our classes but also in regard to the community and a clean environment is important to all of you as you go forward.” Laudato Si’ is interdisciplinary and can generate discussions in numerous aspects.

Laudato Si’ is not only being experienced in the classroom by students, but also in their work studies and other areas while it’s at the Mount. Environmental science student Makala Harrison (’23) is working in a program modeled after Laudato Si’ which is fostered between the university and Daughters of Trinity where she studies the biodiversity of the campus. She and other students in the program determine which plant species are native and invasive to help solve damages in nature. When talking about the difficulties of this work Harrison said, “The biggest challenge is knowing exactly what you’re trying to protect.”

Students such as Harrison contributing to the scientific field are important because more minds involved with helping the planet means a better understanding of how to protect it. She stated, “The bible tells us we have dominion over the earth and part of that is protecting it and standing up for what the earth needs. God gave us such an amazing earth and the action plan is defining how important it is that we care for the world around us.” This generation of students at the Mount care for the environment and more Laudato Si’ inspired programs will allow the Mount community to exercise those needs.

Laudato Si’ is new to Mount St. Mary’s but students caring for the community is not. The connection between the program and our community will help bring more awareness to the environment and will aid in becoming more sustainable in the future.