Working together as one diocese united towards creating transformative change and healing for our common home
As a Diocese we have set ourselves a plan that is ambitious and understands the scale of change that is needed, and one that is grounded in Christian Hope and guided by prayer and Church teaching.
Our Diocesan Journey
Our journey began in March 2019, when Bishop John Arnold – who is the Environmental Lead for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales – wrote to everyone in our diocese calling on them to play their part in responding to climate change in small ways. In his letter, he asked us all to ‘think global, act local’ and highlighted the impact that making small changes in our personal lives can have.
In the same letter, Bishop John announced his plans to transform his home at Wardley Hall into an ambitious flagship project, that would become the Laudato Si’ Centre. You can read more about our Laudato Si project by clicking here.
That letter was a catalyst for activity across the diocese as parishes and schools encouraged by the call to action looked to play their part. The work our parishes and schools have undertaken is inspirational, with small teams of volunteers they have turned overgrown, disused space into havens for wildlife. These projects are embracing Laudato Si’ as a core principle of our Catholic faith. You can find some examples and how you can make changes in your own parish and school here.
Since March 2019 a lot of hard work and dedication by a small team of dedicated staff and volunteers means that at the Laudato Si’ Centre we have established educational and wellbeing spaces in the walled gardens, greenhouses, orchard, outdoor classroom and more recently in the adjoining woodland. As well as a partnership to create a memorial woodland. We now have bees living across the hives in the walled garden producing award winning honey, which we sell. Our polytunnels and greenhouse are thriving. We have an outdoor classroom that includes eco-bricks in the walls made by parishioners, all of which are surrounded by an accessible surface to provide equal access for all.
In 2020, we welcomed our first Head of Environment, Dr. Emma Gardner. She joined the Diocese from the University of Manchester, where she was Head of Environmental Sustainability for over eight years. You can read more about Emma’s background here. Working closely with Bishop John, Emma will lead transformation in keeping with Laudato Si while providing strategic leadership to support environmental practices across our diocese and beyond.
We are proud to be the lead Diocese for the Guardians of Creation Project, we are helping shape and guide the first systematic framework for decarbonising the Catholic Church in the UK through guidance and tools. You can read more about the project here.
We have a diocesan commitment to a decarbonisation pathway that will aim to be carbon neutral by 2038. It is an important practical effort to reduce our carbon emissions and help repair and heal the damage we’ve done. The pathway is ambitious but realistic, science-based and balanced in relation to the wider needs of our diocese and the need to take swift and effective action. We know the diocese is responsible for emitting over 23,000 tonnes of carbon each year. To help inform our next steps towards decarbonising the diocese in December 20222 we completed energy audits in over 300 diocesan buildings.
We understand the need for the Church to use its voice, its people, and its resources to create a different legacy for the next generation. A legacy built on joy, hope and renewal as we strive for a better way to live in harmony with our common home. We look forward to continuing on our journey with you.