Around the Diocese

More and more people are acknowledging their role in responding to the climate crisis.  We are seeing lots of evidence of this from people across our diocese.

From garden projects to prayer vigils, there has been a great level of action from schools and parishes with communities using their creativity to try and live a more simple and sustainable lifestyle.

Could you make changes within your own parish life or community to put your faith into action and help protect our planet?

Parishes

St Gabriel and the Angels with St John the Baptist, Rochdale

A Rochdale parish is shining a light on sustainable energy by upgrading the lighting in both its churches to a cleaner, greener alternative.

The majority of lights in St Gabriel and the Angels in Castleton have already been switched to more energy-efficient and cost-effective LED bulbs. Due to access, St John’s will also be upgraded as and when bulbs fail.

In addition, St John’s is also working on an exciting National Lottery Heritage Funding project, an initiative that will preserve the heritage of the beautiful building whilst preparing for a future of environmental, social, and economic sustainability and inclusivity.

Parishioners from St Gabriel and the Angels with St John the Baptist have long been committed to environmental care within their parish, holding a special Mass for creation in October 2019 and discussions on how to adapt for a more sustainable future, as well as a ‘multi church’ prayer day for the environment in December 2020, to mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement.

For almost 10 years, a small but dedicated team of parishioners set up the Rochdale Environmental Action Group to change a culture of littering and fly tipping in their town.

Working with their local authority’s Environmental Management department, local councillors, the Co-Op, and other environmental groups, REAG quickly became a vital community service, being announced as runners up in the 2014 Keep Britain Tidy jubilee awards, getting involved in Andy Burnham’s Green Summit, and tidying the town ahead of major events such as the funeral of Lee Rigby.

The team also work closely with more elderly residents or people who need a little extra help keeping their gardens tidy.

St Mary and St John Fisher, Denton

Parishioners from St Mary and John Fisher’s in Denton are turning back to nature as their Live Simply plan comes to fruition.

After setting up Global Healing Group, the parish has spent the last two years creating a beautiful wildlife garden to replace a well-manicured lawn and heavily-pruned trees and shrubs.

The garden’s new, extensive wildflower area, wildlife pond, and exposed tree trunks have attracted a wide range of wonderful creatures, such as insects, toads, frogs, hedgehogs, and more, all looking for safe hibernation spots, whilst multiple bird feeders and nesting boxes have provided a haven for birds and bats.

Children and staff from St John Fisher RC Primary School have also been getting involved in by planting a large number of trees in their grounds, in partnership with Manchester City of Trees, as part of their environmental awareness programme.


Parish of the Nativity – A Hive of Eco Activity

Behind the church at Holy Family, Limeside, there was a large unused garden space which volunteers have used to create an eco-hub for the church community.

Their plan – to reduce their carbon footprint and to improve the local environment – has been fulfilled to organically grow fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Most recently, the team have planted an apple and a plum tree and there are more to come.

Christmas potatoes were planted into pots and the team will shortly be planting winter leeks, into a raised bed which  volunteers are constructing.

Once the space has been converted the plan is to share it with the wider community who will be invited if they wish to come and grow their own produce.

The team built two bee hives, which are now in situ and are home to approximately 75 thousand bees which, when Covid-19 restrictions allow, runs a free weekly Beekeeping session.

It has attracted great interest from young children through to the not so young who are from around the local area and further afield. The team hope to introduce more hives at a later date and next year should see us produce our first batch of honey.

Good Samaritan, Burnley – Campaigning for a Better World

Lockdown put a stop to many things but for three members of Good Samaritan Parish CAFOD group, it didn’t stop them meeting with their MP, Antony Higginbotham, as part of the Climate Coalition’s “The Time is Now” online lobby of MPs which called for a greener, more just recovery from the global pandemic.

CAFOD volunteer Dominic Aunger said:

“During the virtual lobby, we wanted to ask Antony Higginbotham to press the Government to unleash investment in climate and nature-friendly infrastructure so as to create jobs and support millions out of the recession; put nature on the path to recovery at home and abroad; as well as support the most vulnerable at home and abroad.

“This year needs to be a turning point where world leaders urgently reframe their thinking for the years ahead and recognise that eradicating poverty, tackling the climate crisis and restoring our natural environment are all interconnected”

Our Lady of Grace, Prestwich

A Prestwich parish has been helping families care for our common home by sharing top tips and ideas on how to help the environment.

In March 2019, Bishop John wrote a pastoral letter to parishes across the diocese, calling them to ecological conversion and to begin looking at local ways to combat the global environmental crisis.

In response to this call, Our Lady of Grace parish in Prestwich has been guiding parishioners through simple steps they can take at home that could make a significant impact in addressing the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.

Since 2019, the parish has been regularly issuing advice in the parish newsletter, as well as ideas on how people could become more sustainable and environmentally friendly in their everyday lives.

Schools

Find out more about the work of St Mary’s RC Primary School in Clayton-le-Moors by clicking here. Bishop John also attended the opening of an eco classroom at the school 

Corpus Christi RC Primary, Chadderton have recently done a lot work getting ready for Earth Day and held a cross-curricular week with the Oliver Jeffers book ‘Here We Are’: “We are also extremely proud of our Reception children who have been busy looking after the local area and even the beach as part of their home task.” Find out more

LAUDATO SI WEEK… The pupils at St Wulstans, Great Harwood (year 5/6)  learnt about the carbon cycle and will be comparing carbon footprints in an interesting session on the environment with Bob Turner. They have started an exciting new project on Fossil fuels v Green energy.

St Cuthbert’s RC High School, Rochdale

Students from St Cuthbert’s RC High School in Rochdale have been pioneering the way for ecological conversion through their efforts to raise awareness on the environmental crisis.

One of St Cuthbert’s five core values is stewardship: “to value our environment and planet and work hard to take care and preserve it.”

There is a thriving School Council where students can opt to become a community, diversity, or eco ambassador.

In March 2020, two of the school’s ambassadors met with Rochdale MP Tony Lloyd, leader of the council Allen Brett, and other like-minded students from Rochdale schools to discuss the environmental issues our communities are facing and what we can do to combat climate change. One of the students won a prize for best attendee.

Students have also been making ecology-themed posters and sculptures and raising awareness of the environmental issues people face around the world and how the school is combatting climate change within their own community.

Corpus Christi Primary School, Oldham

An Oldham primary school are sowing the seeds for a sustainable future with its enthusiastic Laudato Si’ team.

Corpus Christi Primary School is transforming its school grounds into a hub of natural beauty through a number of exciting projects that are set to grow and expand over time.

In answer to Pope Francis’ call to care for our common home, Corpus Christi has been busy planting fruit trees and planters around the school, in the prayer and peace garden, and taking steps to ensure proper recycling of materials such as milk bottles.

Plans are also in place to develop the Forest School, with hopes to add more flowers, encourage more wildlife, and build a raised pond for frogspawn. Land behind the school has also been identified as an opportunity to develop and enrich the natural environment around the school.

Newman RC College, Oldham

Students from Newman RC College in Oldham have been bringing the community together through a prestigious eco project.

The college’s eco success story began in September 2018, after starting the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Green Plan It Challenge. This involved designing a garden with all its plants, then creating a model, a report, and presenting their plan to assessors at Salford University.

Over the past few years, the Oldham secondary school has been busily transforming its grounds through an ambitious gardening scheme, which has seen pupils planting bulbs, harvesting willow branches, pruning trees and shrubs, planting winter-germinating crops, planting trees, weeding, composting, and more.

Ever creative, the students made Christmas wreaths and crafts at the annual Christmas Craft Sale to help raise money towards a polytunnel for the school.

The polytunnel has been a great aid in growing plants and even enabled students to experiment with species and seeds from far-flung places across the world, after teaming up with a nearby mosque who kindly helped with a range of Asiatic edible plants and some coriander seeds.

Working with the tunnel proved invaluable in helping students with their next big project: the Tatton Flower Show. To help the youngsters gain some insight into the horticultural industry and get some ideas for their garden design, the school went on a trip to Gordon Riggs Garden Centre in Todmorden.

Inspired by the visit, and thanks to a lot of hard work, Newman College achieved a Level Five accreditation for the Green Plant It Challenge – the highest level awarded -and were awarded with two plaques, a logo to use on school stationary, and £200 worth of garden vouchers.

In addition to working with the mosque, the students also teamed up with St Joseph and St Herbert RC Primary Schools. In winter 2019, the Eco Team applied to the RHS Green Plan It Challenge once again, this time designing a garden for St Herbert’s Habitat Hub. The secondary school students worked closely with the primary school pupils, discovering more about their ideas and incorporating the results into their design. The team then applied for a grant from RHS to make the design a reality, which was won, but sadly put on hold due to the outbreak of the Covid pandemic.

Now as schools return from the summer break to fewer restrictions, hopes are high that this exciting new project will come into fruition over the coming months.

Stay tuned to hear more from our fantastic parishes and schools!