Irish Council of Churches. Irish Inter-Church Meeting

Annual Events and caring for the Environment

Caroline Goucher, Westport Eco–Congregation





At this time of year, in the turn of the season, we give thanks for the harvest.

It is an especially good time to express gratitude for all that is good around us, for everything we have and to consider our hopes for our own futures and the future of Mother Earth. 

Because we cannot separate one from the other.

Westport Eco–Congregation hosted its fourth ‘Earth Hour’ this year. This gathering offers us as a community an opportunity to spend a focussed hour with our global community acting for climate change in care of ‘Our Common Home’.

Earth Hour puts into action the hope of Pope Francis’ prayer Laudato Si’ (Praise be to God). It asks us to “rediscover the way we live together in our common home”.

Pope Francis calls out consumerism, irresponsible development, environmental degradation, global warming. This is a direct challenge to centuries of human beings taking for granted that Earth’s resources are exclusively for our use as we see fit.

This year there is more of an urgency than ever to gather, unite and advocate as tens of thousands of young people are taking to the streets on ‘Fridays For Future’, with a clear message to world leaders: act now to save our planet and our future from the climate emergency.

These schoolchildren have grasped something that seems to elude many of their elders: we are in a race for our lives, and we are losing. The window of opportunity is closing – we no longer have the luxury of time, and climate delay is almost as dangerous as climate denial.

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness”

On the last Saturday of March, Westport Eco–Congregation hosts ‘Tea & Tunes by Tealight’. We gather in the town centre, the main buildings power down their lighting and the shops dim their displays. The only places open are the cafes, where tea and cake are served by candlelight and we enjoy music (acoustic, of course!) from local musicians. 

Our events are planned as to avoid the use of single use products, plastic and disposable material. In this small way, we are actively encouraging people to be more aware of what they use in their daily lives – a message and call to action in one.

As part of our spiritual reflection, we are encouraged to widen our views beyond our own immediate needs. We are asked:

  • to look at the way we live our lives, how it affects us and people on the other side of the world
  • to consider what sort of world we want to leave to the next generation – our children – and the generations after that. 
  • to be like children – to rekindle that wonder in the world that all children have.

As a congregation and as individuals we are asked to look at each action we take as we move through our day. We cannot change the world, but we can change our own small corner of it by making easy small changes:

  • We can stop and think before we buy goods covered in layers of plastic.
  • We can carpool to work, to church, to the school – anywhere where more than one of us go on a regular basis. 
  • We can watch our water consumption.
  • We can become aware of how much food we throw out each week. 
  • We can use fewer chemicals to clean our homes. We can use vinegar and lemon.
  • We can become aware of how the media and mass manufacturing tries to persuade us we need more than we actually do.
  • We can support local producers, whether they’re producing goods or food.

Plans are well underway in Westport for ‘Season of Creation 2019’. Westport Eco–Congregation is delighted to welcome Lorna Gold of Trocaire as our keynote speaker on September 24th. Lorna will discuss her book ‘Climate Generation: Awakening To Our Children’s Future’.

There will also be talks from Saoirse McHugh, MEP Candidate and local secondary school students who are actively part of the Climate Strikes and who addressed the Oireachtas in Dáil Éireann earlier this year. 

This cross–generational event will raise the profile of the collaboration required across all ages, colour and creed to unity for ‘Our Common Home’. St.Mary’s Roman Catholic Church and Holy Trinity Church of Ireland shall co–host the ECI Candle that celebrates ‘Shining a Light on Climate Justice’ for the celebration of the season. 

‘Let us not despair…’ JF Kennedy

Each and every one of us, as an individual, as a member of a congregation, as a community, as a county and as a country can step up and make real change. A change for the greater good of our future. 

Be the change for climate change. Reimagine everything!