United States and Canada. On 11 February 2023, the Youth Ministry team of St. Joseph Province (SEC) organized a formation webinar on Integral Ecology in the style of the Preventive System, which was attended by more than 100 participants connected online from the United States, Canada, and some from Italy, Australia, and Great Britain, with a good representation of the Salesian Family Groups.
After the initial prayer, the speaker, Sr. Alessandra Smerilli, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, presented the theme in two moments: “A path of conversion to integral ecology” and “Integral ecology in the spirit of the Preventive System”.
The itinerary of conversion to integral ecology was founded on the Scriptures, from the garden of Adam and Eve, to the shores of the lake of Galilee. Jesus’ words, “My heart is moved with compassion” (Mk 8:2), prompt us to commit ourselves more to caring for the common good. Sister Alessandra invited the participants to base their conversion journey on three verbs: Meet, Listen, Act.
After the first presentation, they shared in small groups challenges, resistances, and motivations on integral ecology. Each group submitted the feedback shared using the Mentimeter app.
In the second intervention, Sr. Alessandra presented a reflection on integral ecology in the spirit of the Preventive System offering five interpretations: reason, religion, loving kindness, closeness, and deep relationship with the natural world and a simple lifestyle. Each of them was explained in relation to a contemporary analysis of the dramatic deterioration of the common home. She also highlighted the life-giving potential of the Preventive System and the Salesian charism, to transform this current crisis into a journey made up of deeper encounters, attentive and authentic listening, and concrete life choices.
Towards the end of the Webinar, she gave space to questions, answering them all appropriately and authentically. Finally, she resumed Pope Francis’ exhortation to listen, also underlined in the Message for World Communications Day 2022. The participants were then invited to watch the documentary The Letter which talks about the encyclical Laudato Si’ and the ongoing ecological emergency.
This was the second appointment for the SEC Province on Integral Ecology of the pastoral year. On 4 December 2022, the French-speaking part of the Province met via the Zoom platform to reflect on the Chapter Deliberation with Sr. Ana Victoria Ulate, FMA, then collaborator in the Youth Ministry Sector. Her contribution was invaluable for a deeper understanding of the objectives of Laudato Si’ and of the Salesian response to the topic.
The formation helped to open our eyes to the fact that Integral Ecology, beyond the simple but effective efforts to reduce, reuse, recycle, is actually a transforming and gradual conversion in awareness, listening, life choices, relationships in the Salesian style.
The hope for all the FMA and the Provinces is to continue to bear in their hearts the question asked by Pope Francis in LS’, “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who will come after us, to the children who are now growing up?”, and to respond enthusiastically to the invitation to slow down and cultivate a more authentic relationship with God, with others, and with creation.