Cardinal Robert McElroy celebrated the 2022 Feast of St. Francis Mass on Oct. 1 by calling on people of faith to unite with the entire human family to end the environmental crisis that has “defaced and destroyed” so much of God’s creation.

The diocese’s Creation Care Ministry organized the morning Mass, attended by hundreds from across the region at St. Rita’s Church in Southeastern San Diego.

At the conclusion, the ministry announced the ten young winners of its inaugural Season of Creation Art Contest, which had as a theme “For the Beauty of the Earth.” Participants ranged from fourth graders to young adults age 18 and older and came from schools and parishes from across the diocese.

Afterward, Mass-goers attended a lunch at the parish hall, where they were able to see the winning entries and hear from their young creators.

Cardinal McElroy opened the Mass by outlining what had brought them together.

“We celebrate two important realities in our world,” the cardinal said. “The first is the beauty of creation that God has bestowed upon the whole human family. It’s the foundation of every blessing we know in our lives.

“The second is the call that God has given to us to be protectors of that creation, guardians, in a special way. And to understand that in our times, we have defaced and destroyed so much of the created order that it is in great crisis, and we must move as a human family to end that crisis….”

The San Diego Diocese implemented a series of measures, including the installation of solar systems at its central offices, parishes and schools, to protect the environment. The diocese also launched a ministry, led by Father Emmet Farrell, to inform parishes and schools about the pope’s document, urging them to develop a team to launch environmental projects.

In 2021, the ministry developed a Creation Care Action Plan for individuals, parishes and schools.

The diocese established an office in July to lead these environmental efforts. That office, called Creation Care Ministry, itself part of the Office for Life, Peace and Justice, organized the St. Francis Mass and the Season of Creation Art Contest.

Afterward, its director, Christina Bagaglio Slentz, announced that a total of 168 young people had participated in the contest, which also was promoted by Catholic schools and parishes. They had submitted entries in the form of an essay, poem, drawing, painting, video and song. The winners received a certificate and gift cards….

The above comes from an Oct. 1 story in the Southern Cross.