Last Wednesday, September 30, the Benedictine community got a chance to listen to a marathon reading of the Encyclical Laudato-si. The reading began at 10 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m. and allowed listeners to inform themselves on the importance of the environment, as told by Pope Francis.
According to a September 11 article by the Daily Herald, “Dr. Brophy is beginning to form a methodology for his goal of molding Benedictine into a thought leader on globally significant topics such as health and the environment.”
The environment is a topic that is not just important to Catholics, it is also important to all people no matter the country or culture. The Pope has written extensively on the environment in a treaty called the Encyclical Laudato-si, his treatise on environmental world stewardship.
The Center for Mission and Identity wanted to demonstrate Benedictine’s new vision of being a leader in stewardship by reading the entire Encyclical, outdoors in one day and night. The Encyclical Laudato-si is the Pope’s treatise on environmental concerns and how the Vatican should be addressing them. These are not new concerns; they have been around for many years now.
The Center for Mission and Identity wanted to create symposium with a difference; it would have two parts the first being outdoors and the second being an evening symposium where students could ask questions and become part of the general discussion on the environment.
“(Abbot Austin) literally held down the podium and managed to read the entirety of the Encyclical, plus a little more from the beginning,” said the event organizer Dr. Jean-Marie Kauth.
The first part of the event was outdoors in the cold, blustery day but this did not stop students and faculty from attending and listening to the readings, in fact, there were roughly 100 people in attendance over the lunch time reading session.
“Hundreds more passed by and witnessed the reading,” said Dr. Kauth as she reflected on the day’s events, held in front of the new Goodwin Hall.
The second part of the event was held in the Krasa Presentation Room and was a symposium featuring a collective ensemble from all areas of academia: Dr. Minoca Tischla (biology), Dr.Martin Tracey (Philosophy), Dr. Phil Hardy (POLSCI), Dr. Chris Fletcher (Theology) and Dr. Jean-Marie Kauth.
After a brief introduction by President Dr. Brophy, the symposium was underway in a crowded presentation room, full of students and faculty members, along with concerned members of the public.
“Students play a powerful leadership role at the University,” mentions Dr. Kauth and therefore having such an attendance will hopefully inspire more students to take action to prevent more damage to the environment. This does not mean that the students are expected or even needed to turn into eco-crusaders and go on protests: far from it, it was to build awareness of the issues as they have been over many years and how to help protect the environment here and now.
“There are many fruitful ways to integrate study of the encyclical into college courses, whether in science, social science, or the humanities. In the fall Dr. Tischler has integrated study of Laudato Si’ into a course on Environmental study,” said Dr. Martin Tracey.
The idea of implementing the environment into courses is a great way to bring the value of stewardship into the classroom, to educate as well as inspire students to make their own inquiries into the environmental issues at a family level. The reading coincided with the Popes visit to the U.S., as well as the Family Weekend at Benedictine. Environmental Stewardship is also an IDS class for students at the Campus, and using an interdisciplinary approach is an ideal way to bring the Benedictine Core Values to life not just in the classroom but in the community in which we live, work and study together.