September 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, marks the beginning of the Season of Creation which ended on 4th October, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. The Season of Creation is a yearly celebration of prayer and action to protect our natural environment from harm. During this time, Christians throughout the world were united in special prayer and actions on behalf of creation with the theme “Protecting the Web of Life”.
The Religious Sisters of Charity in the Nigerian Region participated fully during this season through personal and community prayers and reflections. Efforts were made to create awareness at the community level with Link Sisters at the parishes and Schools and places where Sisters minister and also through our platform of Regional Web text group.
Our co-workers were enlightened on the need for stewardship in the use of resources. The participants were sensitized on their duties as stewards of God’s creation and that we are related and connected with the environment for survival. Further explanation was made about the life of St. Francis of Assisi who was praised for his outstanding love for God’s creation.
The celebration was timely in Nigeria as environmental degradation and pollution continue unabated particularly in the Niger Delta Region. Three communities are situated within Niger Delta Region namely Ozoro, Bomadi and Port Harcourt. Sisters in Niger Delta Region made great effort during this season of creation to loud the horrifying damages carried out against the earth. The sisters carried out exercises such as talks, cleaning of road and clearing of compounds etc. Emphasis was made on change of life style.
In Lagos, the Sisters executed varied activities in schools and churches. A visit was made to meet Assistant Director of the Environment in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State. A new banner and fliers for the Season of Creation were designed and distributed at Masses for the closing ceremony. Talks were delivered to different groups. Two economic trees, Pears (Dacryodes Edulis) were planted at Public Garden nearby Festac Town Lagos to mark the Season of Creation.
The awareness campaign provided opportunity to explain in detail the repercussion of the earth’s destruction as we are already experiencing. Surprisingly, the rainy season in Nigeria has spanned to November and this has caused a rise in the level of rivers and streams. Many people are displaced from their homes across the country. Hundreds and thousands of properties have perished in the floods as a result of constant heavy rains. In Ozoro, Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State, more than one thousand people are displaced from their homes. Efforts are made by individuals, government, churches and the Religious Sisters of Charity to provide humanitarian services to the displaced persons in the camp.
The constant heavy rain fall and the floods are the ‘Cry of the Earth’ pleading that we take another course. The challenge is that we lack the culture and system needed to confront this crisis. We lack leadership capable of striking out on new paths and meeting the needs of the present with concern for all and without prejudice toward coming generations (Encyclical Laudato Si, 53, May 24, 2015).
Interestingly, more than 50% of the audience in the awareness activities during this Season of Creation consists of children in Nursery and Primary Schools as well as Holy Child Association and other children in the parishes. Through the activities, consciousness was reawakened to focus on the culture of keeping the environment clean at all times. With the population of children reached during and after this Season of Creation, we hope for lasting change AMDG.
Sr. Elizabeth Onyekigwe distributes fliers after the talk in Nazareth Nursery and Primary School Festac Town, Lagos
Sr. Helen Eluagu poses with the people after a talk