Light the Way: An Interfaith Response to Laudato Si

Introduction by Sister Margaret Mayce, OP

Over the past five years, I have been blessed with the assistance of a Dominican Volunteer here in New York, as part of our Dominican presence at the United Nations. Ohio Dominican University graduate Kelly Litt returned to Ohio in July, where she is currently working with a non-profit organization. As with my previous volunteers, Kelly’s contribution was invaluable! And, I have every reason to believe that Alandra Scott will follow in this laudable tradition! Alandra, who is also a graduate of Ohio Dominican, arrived on Aug. 17, and has spent the past several weeks acclimating herself to the UN and its agenda. She comes at a very significant time, as the UN prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary on Oct. 24, and as the General Assembly prepares to adopt its Post-2015 Development Agenda – the Sustainable Development Goals – on Sept. 25. And of course the excitement in UN circles is palpable, as we anxiously await the visit of Pope Francis. While neither Alandra nor I, nor any of my NGO colleagues, will have access into the building to actually attend the Pope’s address to the General Assembly, just knowing that he will be here, addressing the same concerns for people and planet which we consistently hold up to the Member States, is a source of great affirmation and encouragement for us.

It really is a wonderful time for me and for Alandra here in New York, for Mike Deeb in Geneva, and for the entire Dominican Family to be a presence at the United Nations. Let’s stand in glad solidarity with Pope Francis, in whatever ways we can, and pray that his message will touch the minds and hearts of those whose decisions will have enormous impacts – for good or ill –on our common home, and our common future.

And now, a word from Alandra…

Light the Way: An Interfaith Response to Laudato Si

By Alandra Scott, Dominican Volunteer

As the United Nations marks its 70th anniversary, Member States will make vital decisions regarding issues of climate change and global sustainable development at The United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 25.

In this crucial year at the United Nations, Pope Francis will address the General Assembly the morning of the 25th marking the particular importance of the United Nations upcoming resolutions. Due to the immense impact climate change has made on the future peace and well-being of Earth and humankind, these resolutions and the implementation methods and strategies are extremely important.

In his encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis notes the consequences of climate change including; the issue of water; loss of biodiversity; breakdown of society; global inequality and expresses disappointment in the weak responses to these detrimental issues. In this encyclical, Pope Francis summons all people, especially all Christians, to action. With simplicity and out of reverence for creation, Pope Francis affirms, “Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interactions with it.”

Here in New York, faith communities have come together in response to the Pope’s call, with hopes of engaging people of good will in sustainable action. Light the Way, will be an interfaith ceremony and vigil for peace for the planet and to support the Popes message of care for our common home. At this ceremony, people of all faiths will join together in reflection, in hope, in love, in prayer and in inspiration to action on the eve of the Pope’s visit.

The planning is ongoing. Updates on details regarding the ceremony and vigil will continue to flood in, with hopes of solidarity from the Dominican community.

To those in the New York area, please consider joining the ceremony! The ceremony will be held on Sept. 24 at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza on E 47th St, New York, NY 10017 (between 1st and 2nd Avenue). The ceremony will begin at 4:30 and end promptly at 5:30, and you are welcome to arrive early… around 3:30 to 4!

The Convergence will be followed by a mass gathering in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza from 6 to 7:45 p.m. organized by relief and development agencies in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which will be adopted by the General Assembly on Sept. 25. At this gathering, people will stand together with thousands of others in support of these goals and a brighter global future.

Beginning at 8 p.m. on that same Thursday evening, people of diverse faiths will gather for a multi-faith vigil at the Church of Our Saviour at 59 Park Avenue (38th street). On Friday morning, Sept. 25, before Pope Francis speaks to world leaders, faith leaders will deliver a message of support for the Holy Father and offer our urgent prayers for world leaders to act on climate change.

Please contact Alandra Scott if you are planning to attend or have any further questions regarding this event!