Coming together for Laudato si' at a time of 'physical distancing'

The Global Catholic Climate Movement in Myanmar facilitated its first online "eco-reflections" from May 17 to 23 to mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato si'.

The daily "eco-reflections" were lifted from Father Manny Bautista’s "Living Laudato si': The Ecological Challenge of Pope Francis."

The eco-reflection begins with a reading from Laudato si' followed by a short reflection and "eco-actions."

Space is also given for participants to share their own reflections. Then everyone recites and takes the Laudato si Pledge and a short prayer.

Facilitators also used songs and videos in their presentations. 

One of the presentations during the eco-reflections

The themes for these reflections include: Interconnectedness of Creation, Ecological Sin, Cry of the Earth - Cry of the Poor, Ecological Conversion, Healing our Common Home, Young People and Creation, and Eco-education in the Family. 

The week of eco-reflections drew up to 20 participants, including new members of the movement.

The participants found the sessions important to connect with people especially when everyone is quarantined in their homes.

One member is currently in Rome while the rest are mostly based in Yangon, Myanmar. 

With the ongoing crisis, online meetings like Zoom has allowed individuals, even communities to reach out and to learn that even in quarantine they are still connected.

For many of the members, it was their first time to use Zoom as a platform for online meetings. 

Organizers hope that the eco-reflections will lead to regular online meetings, allowing connection and support and moving into what can be considered “Laudato si' Circles,” which is being promoted by the climate movement.

In a webinar on “Integral Ecology and Digital Culture," Redemptorist priest Amado Picardal pointed out that social media can be used as a means to promote integral ecology.

He said it will each one aware that they are interconnected, and allows each one to hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.

Father Picardal stressed that using social media helps create virtual communities or movements of common interests and goals. 

Because of government quarantine rules due to the pandemic, public gatherings including religious celebrations are banned. 

The pledge of commitment to Laudato si'

The Catholic Student Action Myitkyina together with the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission through Radio Veritas Asia - Kachin Service produced online daily eco-reflections based on the climate movement format.

Bishop Francis Daw Tang also recorded a message inviting everyone to celebrate Laudato si' Week online and to make the Laudato si' pledge a commitment to caring for the common home.

Facilitators for the daily "eco-reflections" included two religious sisters, a catechist, a priest, the executive director of KMSS, the president of the Catholic student movement and a director of a community school.

Through the social media account of Radio Veritas (Kachin), daily reflections and the message of Bishop Francis reach as many as 7,000 people.