August 5, 2021

In this issue

Prayer for Climate Refugees
Adapted by Lissa Romell from "Prayer for Environmental Migrants" from the Catholic Health Association
Good and gracious God,
We, as Passionists, are committed to standing at the foot of the cross of your Son, Jesus Christ. 
Your great blessing to us is the privilege of standing with the suffering and crucified of today’s world. 

And so we ask that you provide special protection for all families and individuals
who flee their homes seeking safer and better lives, particularly those who must leave their ancestral homes because the land can no longer sustain the members of the community.

Be with them in their hardships as they move in search of a better life.

Show mercy to those who travel in danger, and lead them to places of safety and peace.

Comfort those who are alone and afraid because their families have been torn apart by changing weather patterns, altered landscapes and natural disasters.

Help us to remember the suffering of all migrant families and to open our hearts so that we may provide hospitality
to our sisters and brothers in search of refuge.

Give us the courage to welcome every stranger as Christ in our midst.
Give us the grace and strength to remain at the foot of the cross.

We ask this in your name.


“There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty
caused by environmental degradation. Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers
and sisters point to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men
and women upon which all civil society is founded.”

~Laudato Si’, 25
The Congregational Initiative on Laudato Si’ has launched!

By Lissa Romell
After the recent Assembly, I heard someone comment “I had no idea that all that was part of the Vision Fulfillment Process!”  They were speaking about the wonderful Retrospective video created by Fr. David Colhour, CP, and the unfolding events, experiences and Passionist life that it captured. (Refresh your spirit and watch—or rewatch—it here.) Tim O’Brien pointed out recently that we might say the same thing about Laudato Si’: so much of who we are and what we are about as Passionists—our presence and our ministries—is Laudato Si’ brought to life. 

So in this newsletter, we thought we would celebrate the ways in which the Passionist Family is already living Laudato Si’.  We hope this will provide inspiration, ideas and a few resources as we respond together to Passionist Superior General, Fr. Joachim Rego, CP’s call to engage with Laudato Si’ and build our Laudato Si’ Action Platform.

To view a video introduction by Fr. Joe Mitchell, CP, to the Congregational Laudato Si’ initiative, click here.

The Sermon of Creation
By Patty Gillis

“Let all creation help you to praise God.  
When you are walking alone, listen to the sermon preached
to you by the flowers, the trees, the shrubs, the sky, the sun
and the whole world. Notice how they preach to you a sermon full of love…”.
~St. Paul of the Cross

St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat & Conference Center in Detroit is among the many parishes and other Catholic ministries and retreat centers who are responding to the Laudato Si’ summons to hear more deeply the Cry of Earth and the Cry of the Poor. Since 2018, the Passionist Family in Detroit has been busy attending to both, creating partnerships with community members and organizations in the process.  First, a rain garden with water absorbing native plants was installed, and now, plans are in the works to plant indigenous trees this fall.

At first glance, these might seem like simply environmental projects--the Passionists being good stewards of the land they are blessed to inhabit. But you don’t have to look very far to see the connection with the Cry of the Poor:  the very polluted Rouge River runs through the retreat center property and down to the Detroit River and the Great Lakes. When it rains, sewers overflow, and everything ends up in the river. Three of the retreat center’s downspouts feed directly into the rain garden, keeping rainwater in the ground. This is a great way to keep pollution out of the Rouge River watershed, which serves millions of people in the greater Detroit area. Unclean water can cause serious and costly health issues, and studies have found that poor and minority communities across the U.S. are disproportionately affected by polluted waters. 

And when you listen closely to the sermon of creation, the seventh Action Platform goal, “Community Involvement and Participatory Action to care for creation at the local, regional, national and international levels,” seems to follow.  At St. Paul of the Cross Retreat, it was a natural and life-giving progression. Tom Scherf, staff person in maintenance and operations at the retreat center, really enjoyed the community involvement as he worked with many community groups and volunteers on the rain garden project, including the Friends of the Rouge and the local Sierra Club. They taught him and the volunteers about the construction and maintenance of the rain garden and where to find native plants. The National Wildlife Federation’s Sacred Grounds Program provided technical assistance for the rain garden and has continued their support with a $1,500.00 grant for the tree planting project.

What are you dreaming of for
your community and the land you steward?

The Sacred Grounds Program is open to houses of worship, faith entities and sacred spaces across the country. For more info, contact Manja Holland or Tiffany Carey.

“Let the children come to me…”
By David Horvath 
Called “the coolest summer camp in Louisville,” Camp Odyssey immerses children entering grades 1-6 in the three main aspects of the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center mission: spiritual practice, compassion for others and connection to the Earth.  As they explore the woodlands and meadows of our 27-acre campus and nature sanctuary, as they work and play with our artists, garden and environmental educators, chefs, yoga and meditation instructors, musicians and many others, kids come to understand how ecosystems work, where their food comes from, and how to be more mindful and compassionate toward themselves, their bodies, other people, and their surroundings.  Truly ecological education.

This year the Earth & Spirit Center hosted over 131 campers and about 55 high school students doing their service hours. We were able to provide full scholarships to 25 campers, many from Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and Family Scholar House. The goal at camp is to bring children together across cultures and teach them to take better care of themselves, the planet and each other—Laudato Si’ in action.

To learn more about the Earth & Spirit Center and the programs they offer for children and adults, visit


Advocacy for All of God’s Creation
By David Horvath 
“Our life-style must stand out as a prophetic condemnation of the injustices among which we live.”
~Passionist Rule and Constitution, 72

An important part of the Passionist Family is the Passionist Solidarity Network (PSN).  The PSN represents both the Western and Eastern Provinces and helps us all to fulfill our commitment to be a prophetic witness, speaking out for justice. One important part of the work of the Passionist Solidarity Network is to use our platform, in partnership with other religious congregations and faith organizations, to change policy and recommend actions to respond to integral ecology.  The following is an example of such an action that the PSN signed onto with other faith and religious leaders:

The Farm System Reform Act 
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed serious weaknesses in our food system. In particular the hyper consolidation of our livestock and meat industry led to a near collapse of the supply chain in the early days of the pandemic. Consumers found empty shelves at their grocery stores, meat processing facilities became dangerous COVID-19 hot spots for workers, animals were cruelly killed, and farmers were left with no market for the livestock they produced. This broken system is not the result of inevitable market forces, but rather flows directly from the influence multinational meatpackers have over federal farm policy. The legislation also addresses other ecological and environmental problems with Large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) which have dominated our food system. Read more here.

The seventh goal of the Laudato Si’ action platform, Community Engagement & Participatory Action, invites us to “encourage the development of cultures and policies that protect our common home and all who share it.”  For example, it goes on, “actions could include promoting advocacy and developing people’s campaigns [and] engagement with decision-makers.”  What issues are important to you and the community in which you live?  How might the Spirit be inviting you to speak prophetically, engage and take action?

To learn more about the PSN and/or advocacy resources, contact David Horvath at
The Passionist Story is a Laudato Si’ Story
By Lissa Romell

“Impelled by the Spirit, we are brought together as a community of love
to carry out the mission mandated to us by the Church.”
~Passionist Rule and Constitutions, 8

These are just a few of the many ways the Passionist Family is living out the principles and invitation of Laudato Si’.  We could fill more than a few newsletters with all the initiatives and ministries across the Province, already in action or in the planning stages: recycling, solar panels, socially responsible investing, initiatives in diversity, inclusion and anti-racism, rainwater collection, advocacy and resources committed on behalf of immigrants and refugees, retreats inviting us deeply into the intertwining relationships with God, neighbor and the Earth itself (LS 66), courageous Passionist preaching for justice on behalf of the crucified in today’s world… 

This is our story. The Passionist story and a Laudato Si’ story. From the days of St. Paul of the Cross, Passionists have been listening to the “sermon preached to [us] by the flowers, the trees, the shrubs, the sky, the sun and the whole world.”  A “sermon full of love, of praise of God,” inviting us “to proclaim the greatness of the one who has given them being.” We have been listening and proclaiming the Passion of Jesus, “the greatest and most overwhelming work of God’s love.” Laudato Si’ invites us deeper into our own story.  And we are all storytellers. 
Do you have a Laudato Si’ story you would like to share?  Do you have ideas and are looking for resources? Would you like to brainstorm Laudato Si’ possibilities at your location?
We invite you to contact the Laudato Si’ Vision Fulfillment Team via
“"When you have lights in prayer that some course of action you had been following is no longer the will of God, then discern carefully. If these lights when your spirit is calm, then follow them. I myself don't desire anything else than to do in all things the will of God. All my desires and prayers go in this direction."

"Lord, I want to see your will in everything. But as soon as I begin to face any trials or difficulties, my faith weakens. Give me the grace to see your will as all love, no matter where it leads me. Teach me to see the divine wisdom in your plan, even when the path is unclear. Grant me the peace to follow your lead with deep trust and faith."

Holy Cross Province Vision Statement
Guided by the Holy Spirit and the signs of the times,
we create and carry out ministry that reaches
the suffering of today and form community
that spiritually nourishes the
Passionist Family of Holy Cross Province.
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