Annual St. Francis Day Event
“Faith and the Environment: Prayer and Action”
October 5th 2013
We are in that suspended state of great joy and deep gratitude, as the maple behind Francis House blazes, and the bower of lilies in the garden bloom with persistence and glory. We have lots of clean-up, but we will be singing as we clean as this Francis Day, like we say every year, was the “best”.
Who will ever forget the great voices that opened the day, the great gift of music that fed us all, and oh h
How beautiful you all were, Chris, Julieanne, Rachel, Heidi and friends, all. Many people were moved to tears by the nature drone and the brilliance of the original composition by Julieanne, and Chris’ intricate guitar and the closing hymn, an original composition.
Emily began, what we hope is a new tradition and a sign of transition at Agape…young people owning Francis Day in a way we envision of what is yet to come.
And our speakers, Sr. Bernadette Bostwick and Sr. Amie from the Green Monastery, pulling together themes of the planetary devastation of deforestation and the cosmological frame of reference to our inter-being with all of the creatures with whom we co-habit this fragile globe.
Prof. Roger Gottlieb gave us 10 reasons not the be an environmentalist, expecting rejection and accusations of extremist among them, but ended with the 10 reasons to be an environmentalist, which including, filling our lives with meaning and purpose.
The panel, consisting of Tom Cornell from the Peter Maurin Catholic Worker Farm in NY, Shea Reister of 350.org and Sr. Amie, gave an eclectic summary of the most basic road to faith and the environment by planting seeds and cultivating our gardens, to civil disobedience as a response to the XL pipeline.
As I walked David White, member of the Nipmuc Indian tribe, the indigenous people of the Quabbin (meaning Many Rivers in the Nipmuc language) down the driveway, we were in communion regarding his making more sacred, the already sacred land at Agape. He wants to return to participate in some way in our community life, and will no doubt, be involved in retreat work here. We have planned a time for our sharing together the native heritage we share.
It was astonishing to have someone come to us and say that in the afternoon, they counted 250 people present, not that numbers are ever the goal, but it sure does feel good to have had half the gathered in the morning be new people, and oh those college and university students. The sight of the 15 students from Brandeis, and then the waves of new students, JVC’s, graduates, former interns, along with new queries about coming for retreats, workdays, respites, immersions, was breathtaking to experience.
Bruce Davidson and Linda Reimer of the Sirius Community help us move our feet with the native dance and a moving sight to see David White, our new Nipmucfriend, lending his native step to the music.
As one woman who is from South Africa was leaving, and who had never been to Agape before, said to us as she walked down the driveway. “It is hard for me to leave. I feel embraced by a spirit here, something intangible, mysterious. I could feel it in the walls of Brigid House. When I walked into Francis House, I knew that this was a place of strong spirits lingering.”
I am not making this up. She was so moved that she said that the earth, the buildings, the speakers, all left her in a mood of reverence.
May this mood continue to bless us as we seek harmony with the earth, living the integrated life of communion with the cosmos in this eco-zoicage. We will have the speaker’s talks available shortly.
Roger Gottlieb, professor of philosophy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute; author/editor of numerous books and articles on environmental ethics, religious environmentalism, and contemporary spirituality. His most recent books–Engaging Voices: Tales of Meaning and Morality in an Age of Global Warming and Spirituality: What it is and Why it Matters received Nautilus Book Awards.
Sister Bernadette Bostwick, co-founder with Sr Gail Worcelo and the late Fr Thomas Berry of Green Mountain Monastery in Greensboro, Vermont, whose mission is to live in the consciousness of a “Single Sacred Community of Life.
Tom Cornell Jr, lifetime Catholic Worker and gardener, homesteader at Peter Maurin Farm, an affiliate of the New York Catholic Worker, whose articles on gardening appear frequently in the Catholic Worker newspapers.
Shea Reister, 24, recently arrested for peaceful civil disobedience action against the Keystone XL pipeline, works for the Better Future Project and 350.org, and the student fossil fuel divestment movement as well as an organizer of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Youth Climate Change Activist Panel— students from area colleges will speak out on current climate crisis.
About Agape’s Annual St. Francis Day Event
This annual event honors St. Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of ecology, after whom Agape’s main house is named.
The date correlates to St. Francis’ feast day, October 4, Gandhi’s birthday, October 2. These saints represent the prayer, poverty, nonviolent witness, and sustainable living .
Past St. Francis Days, Agape Anniversary Celebrations, have included:
- Daniel Berrigan SJ
- Sr. Merriam Therese MacGillis
- Vincent Harding
- David Dellinger
- The Hibakusha (A bomb survivors of Hiroshima)
- An interfaith gathering after 911, included Rabbi Sheila Weinberg, Muslim community members, Episcopal priest Fr. Philip Jacobs, monks of the Buddhist Peace Pagoda in Leverett
- 20th Anniversary at Holy Cross and Agape with Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit, MI
- 25th Anniversary with Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi
- 26th Anniversary with inter-racial, multi-ethnic panel on an election year.
- 30th Anniversary with Roy Bourgeois, woman priest Jean Marchant, former death-row inmate Billy Neal Moore, and singer-songwriter Molly Scott.
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