Saint Michael’s to host Diocesan eco-justice conference

September 8, 2017

Saint Michael’s College is co-sponsor and host site for an upcoming conference on ecological justice being planned by the Diocese of Burlington for Saturday, September 30, 2017, in order to explore an array of topics found in Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’s 2015 Encyclical.

Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne will be present at this one-day conference in the Dion Family Student Center Roy Room, hosted by the Catholic Church of Vermont as part of the Year of Creation.

“I am hopeful many of our students will attend, some faculty may include it in their semester plans, and that perhaps local alumni will also find some interest,” said Patrick Gallivan, the College’s vice president for community and government affairs, who said Professor Patrick Walsh of the College’s economics faculty will be a presenter for one of the conference panels.

The 10:30 a.m. conference Keynote address by Dr. Carolyn Woo, former CEO and president of Catholic Relief Services, mainly will address the connections between human action, climate change, environmental degradation, and human suffering. She will talk both about her experiences working with those most effected by climate change and environmental degradation and her experiences educating those most responsible for it on how to live more sustainable lifestyles.

The breakout sessions will cover an array of topics found in Laudato Si’, including: water quality; ethical consuming; sustainable food and farming; the science behind climate change; civic engagement and public policy; eco-spirituality; social justice; community organizing; activism; economics; emergency aid; immigration; and interfaith dialogue.

Preceding the Keynote will be opening prayer and a welcome from Saint Michael’s President Jack Neuhauser. Dr. Woo’s 10:30 a.m. address will be followed by a Question and Answer session; lunch will be from noon to 1 p.m., followed by two breakout sessions, the first from 1 2:15 p.m., and the second from 2:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Closing remarks and time for “Song and Praise” will wrap up the program, according to Stephanie Clary, manager of mission outreach & communication for the Diocese and assistant editor of Vermont Catholic magazine, one of the organizers.

Here’s more details from the Diocese’s promotion of the Conference: “Consider our call to be global disciples who care for all of God’s creation by discussing the connections between environmental degradation and human suffering and what each of us can do to aid our neighbors in need. Closing worship and praise, including music from the new ‘Our Common Home’ collection, led by Bob Hurd of OCP. Breakfast and lunch provided. General Registration: $35; Students: FREE.”

Representing Catholic Relief Services, the Keynote speaker Dr. Woo was featured in the May/June 2013 issue of Foreign Policy as one of the “500 Most Powerful People on the Planet” and one of only 33 in the category of  “a force for good.” In June 2015, Dr. Woo was one of five presenters in Rome at the release of Laudato Si’.

Breakout sessions at the September 30 conference include:

1. A Path to the Good Life: Pope Francis’ Famous Environmental Encyclical

2. Can Economics Save the World?

3. Dialogue: Collaborating to Care for Our Common Home

4. Engaging the Parish: How Do I Invite Others to Join Me?

5. From Climate Science to Climate Justice

6. Pristine or Polluted: Do You Know what is Threatening our Water Resources?

7. Spirituality, Justice and Laudato Si’

8. Water is Life: Giving Access to Safe Water to the Poor Around the World

9. Your Cousin, Your Neighbor’s Cousin: Consuming Ethically in Today’s World

Space for registered conference participants is limited, so the sponsors are encouraging registration as soon as possible. Anyone planning to attend the conference can register at General registration is $35; Student registration is free.


Stephanie Clary, Manager of Mission Outreach & Communication

Assistant Editor, Vermont Catholic

Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington

(802) 846-5822

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