Rome (Italy). On 5 November 2022, from 9 to 12:30, in presence and in live streaming, in the John Paul II Aula Magna of the Pontifical Faculty of Education “Auxilium” in Rome, the first meeting of the ecological formation project is held, “Guardians of the Garden”, organized by the Laudato Si’ Circle of the Faculty and by the magazine and Association for social promotion “Earth and Mission”.

“Listening to the trees” is the title of the first of three events. After the greetings of the Dean of the “Auxilium” Faculty, Sr. Piera Ruffinatto, FMA; and Giuseppe Milano, Secretary General of Greenaccord Onlus, the program  includes the interventions of: Francesco Auciello, founder of the “My friend tree” Association; Francesco Ferrini, Professor of general arboriculture at the University of Florence; Antonio Brunori, forestry doctor and journalist, general secretary of PEFC Italy; and Maria Teresa Abignente, doctor, coordinator of the Nain group of the Community of Romena, dedicated to parents who have lost children.

“Planting trees means thinking about the future, because whoever plants a tree, plants hope,” comments Ferrini. “But planting trees is an action that must be part of a series of strategies, where the first is to reduce emissions because trees cannot do everything by themselves”.

In fact, education in environmental responsibility is central, as Auciello points out, “Our commitment to environmental protection is a small seed that has fallen on the soil of this extreme Roman periphery. We believe that we must also commit ourselves at the local level to help combat air pollution, the impact of climate change, and the loss of biodiversity.”

The “Guardians of the Garden” ecological formation project, aimed at combining the scientific dimension of environmental issues with the educational one, seeks to deepen some issues related to ecology, encourage a change of mentality, and provide the tools to educate the young generations to respect, care for creation, and the acceptance of the concept of integral ecology.

Sr. Piera Ruffinatto explains, “It is a proposal capable of reconciling concreteness, practicality, and professionalism, thanks to networking with other institutions and associations sensitive to the issue. At the same time, we intend to respond to Pope Francis’s appeal to educate the younger generations in integral ecology and highlight the attention that the Faculty has always cultivated towards the territory and its needs.” The area in which the Faculty is located is, in fact, a territory characterized by the countryside, the sea, and urbanization, which has found historical and human unity in the millenary presence of the churches of Porto-Santa Rufina and Civitavecchia-Tarquinia.

Msgr. Gianrico Ruzza, Bishop of the two dioceses that extend from the western outskirts of Rome, along the northern coast of Lazio through the Roman countryside and southern Etruria, underlines how “starting from the natural beauties of the dioceses of Porto-Santa Rufina and Civitavecchia-Tarquinia and from the aspirations of many, the ‘Auxilium’ Faculty offers a path to deepen the care of our common home, an important academic reflection that accompanies us to understand the reasons for the ecological conversion invoked by Pope Francis.”

The interdisciplinary path develops, from November 2022 to March 2023, in three thematic nuclei. The next meetings will be held on 18 February 2023 – “The sea, our resource” and on 25 March 2023 – “Energy communities and the future”.

The project is carried out with the patronage of the Department of Social Policies and Health of Rome; and with the collaboration of the “My friend tree” Association; of the non-profit “Greenaccord” Association; of the Canção Nova Community; and the “Futuro Ponderano” Committee.

Each meeting is proposed as a Continuing Professional Formation Course of the Order of Journalists with the acquisition of 3 credits.

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