SUMTER—St. Francis Xavier High and other schools in the diocese are practicing what religious leaders preach concerning good stewardship of the planet.
On Earth Day April 22, students will be planting trees, butterfly bushes and flowers, picking up litter, and celebrating all they’ve learned about the environment.
For them, it is not a one-day nod at doing their part, but a continuation of daily living.
Over the years, students at St. Francis have built their own greenhouse where they plant and nurture seedlings. This year, the youth are expanding their vegetable garden in hopes of donating the crop to a ministry that helps feed the poor, said Sue Lavergne, principal.
They also are learning to manage waste and make their own compost for the garden. Lavergne said she hopes the younger students from St. Anne will accept their invitation to come help. She said it is all part of heeding the pope’s message.
People have referred to Pope Benedict XVI as the green pope because of his concern for environmental issues, but he is far from the first to encourage good stewardship of the planet.
In his recent message for World Day of Peace, he said the environment must be seen as God’s gift to all people, and that everyone must share responsibility for it.
About 40 years ago, Pope Paul VI said taking care of God’s creation is an ancient call, made by God Himself as written in Genesis, when man was entrusted to “till it and keep it” (cf. Gen. 2:15).
Phyllis Brandis, principal of St. Anthony in Florence, said they do their part through a recycling program and maintaining the school campus.
“We like to help the Earth look pretty and do the things we need to help our planet survive,” Brandis said. “We live here on this Earth and we have to do our part.”
Divine Redeemer School in Hanahan has incorporated environmental lessons into their entire curriculum through a $10,000 grant they won last year.
Andrea Niesse, who wrote the grant, said if children start young, then stewardship of the planet will be part of their lifestyle.
One of the things the youth did was investigate alternative sources of energy such as solar, wind and water. On Earth Day, the students will race the solar-powered cars they built.
The USCCB has also encouraged Christians to show respect for the Lord through stewardship of His creation. “Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith,” the USCCB wrote.