Sacred Heart Banket youths in Ecological conversion

By Nonhlanhla Ngwenya 

Pope Francis’ appeal for ‘every person living on this planet’ to engage in a dialogue on how to shape the future of the earth has undoubtedly reached so many places-including a small town of Banket in Zimbabwe. Thanks to a Jesuit priest Fr Karl Hermann SJ and a two Catholic groups promoting ecology dialogues. 

Fr Karl Hermann SJ, Sacred Heart Banket parish priest brought Laudato Si home to over 80 youths from Sacred Heart parish and Chinhoyi Diocese during a three day congress aimed at facilitating their learning on the importance of treating nature with respect. 

The congress held from the 23rdto the 26thof August 2018 was also supported by Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) and Integral Youth Development (IYD).

Fr Karl SJ says the idea to have a Laudato SI themed gathering exposes the youth to Pope Francis’ teaching that the earth is our common home together with the rest of God’s creation which includes animals, birds and vegetation hence to the call to care for it.

“When the youth of my parish asked for a congress, the idea of Laudato Si came to mind as there is need to familiarize the youth with this encyclical

Shingirai Kupara a youth from St Rupert Meyer Mission regretted the people’s contribution to the degradation of our common home saying “We as a people are selfish, we never give our common home time to rejuvenate itself and heal from different disasters such as land degradation and air pollution. We are supposed to take care of our common home and not destroy it”.

Young Tatenda Mpala from Musha WeBhatonia Parish, brought out the issue of technology, saying though its downsides, young people should embrace the Pope’s call and use technology to help care for the nature around us.

“As a youth I feel we are the ones affected by the new forms of technologies. The Pope in the letter also encourages us to embrace the new technologies as well as consider effects and the benefits.

Clive Pawakwenyiwa the country director for CYNESA said their mandate is to concretely take action on the role the youth has to play for the environment. He said as much as there is a lot of coverage on Laudato Si there is no concrete commitment from people. 

“The response was quiet amazing. There were a lot of good ideas that came out, a lot of impressive commitments such as clean up campaigns and tree planting activities.”

He pledged to continue working with the youths as well as follow ups so as to monitor that what was said is put into action.

Integral Youth Development Project Coordinator, Mr Mike Kalongonda said his organisation has worked in raising awareness and provoking a sense of responsibility in young people to do something towards the Pope’s call in countering environmental degradation.

“When we talk of ecological conversion and environmental awareness, we are simply saying the physical environment is not the only environment we should be worried about. It also comes from the social environment itself. We are here as IYD mainly focusing on behavioural change, trying to change the mindsets of young people towards doing things that will aid to the ecological conversion the Pope speaks of”.

Fr Karl SJ said the programme started off as a small committee led and guided by a Jesuit scholastic, Tanaka Mashiche SJ. 

Fr Karl that the absence of the encyclical in Shona was a challenge as some of the Youths are not good with English so four young people have been chosen to lead the activities and to compile relevant information for their peers and to guide the several activities planned. 

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