On Saturday, November 7, a new Laudato Si’ Living Chapel was inaugurated in the typhoon-hit Philippines. The chapel is the first of its kind in Asia, after Rome and Venice in Europe.
On the occasion of the second foundation anniversary of Living Laudato Si’ Philippines (LLS), the faithful community of Santo Niño Parish in Sibuyan Island, Romblon, has gathered in the new open-air chapel for integral ecology to learn and take action on the teachings of Pope Francis’ encyclical letter, Laudato si’: On Care for Our Common Home.
Joining the global movement for ecological spirituality under the guidance of the Sector on “Ecology and Creation” of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, LLS closely coordinated the establishment of the Laudato Si’ Living Chapel with the parish priest, Father Francis Fornal, who readily expressed his desire to initiate Laudato si’ formation programs in basic ecclesial communities (BEC). (Read: Marian Image in Tarlac Gets Pope Approval for Canonical Coronation)
“With the existence of the Laudato Si’ Living Chapel, LLS will work together with the BECs and ecology ministers in the parish to promote integral ecological spirituality in every family leading to concrete actions. A participative and inclusive formation program and monitoring system will also be developed in the context of our communities,” said LLS executive director Rodne Galicha.
Laudato Si’ Living Chapel
Situated on a pilgrimage hill called Tagudtod sang Pangamuyo (Hill of Prayer) with a panoramic view of rice paddies and the majestic Mount Guiting-Guiting Natural Park in the background, the Laudato Si’ Living Chapel was allowed to be established by Dr. Bernardo Rivas and his family.
“It is an answered prayer. I have been praying that if the time would come that I will be called to join the Creator, the Hill of Prayer will be taken care of by the faithful for the protection of our environment,” said Dr. Rivas. (Read: This parish in Bantayan Island has murals just like the ones in the Sistine Chapel!)
At the center of the open-air Laudato Si’ Living Chapel is a tree called “tigà” or the Philippine ironwood—a threatened species flourishing in biodiversity hotspot Sibuyan Island. The tree symbolizes the biblical Tree of Life and the Burning Bush, and around it are fourteen pillars made of seven tightly tied bamboos which represent the seven Laudato Si Goals and multi-year Laudato Si’ Action Platform. (Read: Pope Francis Gives Support To Africa’s ‘Laudato Tree Project’)
“This initiative will promote Laudato Si’ Goals, the multi-year Laudato Si’ Action Platform and the eco-actions enumerated in the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Pastoral Letter on Ecology, in our pastoral work which will be sustained by our ecology ministers,” said Father Fornal.
From Indoors to Outdoors
Fr. Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam, SDB, Coordinator of Sector on “Ecology and Creation” of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, also took part in the inauguration. In a video message, he recalled that LLS was launched two years ago at the Manila Cathedral—and that two years later, advocates gathered again for the inauguration of the Laudato Si’ Living Chapel and Garden. (Read: Typhoon Rolly Wrecks Albay Churches, Bishop Asks For Help)
“From indoors, you are now going outdoors. Pope Francis constantly invites us that we need to become a church that goes out towards the poor; that goes out to the natural world that is crying out, that goes out into the peripheries,” said Fr. Kureethadam.
Inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, Living Laudato Si’ Philippines is committed to building capacity and fostering partnerships in mainstreaming the principles of Laudato Si’ as a framework and tool for sustainable development. The group also hopes to influence institutions to divest from destructive industries and shift toward financing solutions that promote sustainability and social justice.