Catholic Earthcare Steps to Ecological Dialogue

A Certification Process for Catholic Schools

Catholic Earthcare Australia first initiated the idea of Earthcare schools with the publication of “On Holy Ground” (2005), a seminal document which laid out the case for us to Care for Creation based on the teachings of our church including Pope John Paul II who called us to an ecological conversion.

In 2020, we trialled a certification process for Earthcare schools spirited on by the teachings of Pope Francis, especially in the encyclical of Laudato Si’, On Caring for Our Common Home, amid an increasingly difficult geo-political environment, a state of a Climate Emergency as well as COVID-19.

Catholic Earthcare Australia wants to acknowledge the good works happening in schools and nurture their development, growing abundance in addressing our ecological challenges so that, we as a church, can lead by example and follow our well-formed hearts with practical steps which engage the whole community in caring for our mother earth.

A full program roll out of Catholic Earthcare Schools is happening in 2021.

About Catholic Earthcare Certification

Catholic Earthcare schools and parishes is based on a behaviour change methodology and as such requires a whole of organisational engagement around a shared goal for a shared benefit.

In short, if someone was to ask me what is a Catholic Earthcare school, I would describe them as:

  • A school that understands the importance of connectivity to nature and local ecology demonstrated through curriculum options for staff and students.
  • A school that equips its staff and students with an age appropriate theological and moral understanding of the issues affecting our common home.
  • A school prepared to evaluate how it has, and will care for our common home through faith inspired actions.
  • A school whereby students take the lead supported by teachers wherever possible to grow the Catholic leadership of the future.
  • A school that ultimately becomes what it professes, aligned to its charism through ecological eyes.
  • Lastly, it is a school that celebrates, communicates, includes, translates and evangelises others, within and beyond its school fence.

As Cardinal Turkson in his message to Bishops world-wide, from Portugal (Feb, 2016) has said, Laudato Si’ relates to the important principles of Catholic social teaching—the common good, human dignity, justice, solidarity, subsidiarity and sustainability. All these come together in an integral ecology “which clearly respects its human and social dimensions”. This is necessary because “everything is closely interrelated, and today’s problems call for a vision capable of taking into account every aspect of the global crisis” (§137).

Catholic Earthcare program sites must therefore, ultimately reflect this transformative state through an educative process.

As Pope Francis has written, Ecological education can take place in a variety of settings: at school, in families, in the media, in catechesis and elsewhere. Good education plants seeds when we are young, and these continue to bear fruit throughout life. [LS 213] As such, the Catholic Earthcare program supports ‘student led change’ as a means of developing the leaders of the future, empowering action from within and releasing their potential.

All schools initiate an audit of their site for current practices in order to celebrate and share current successes. This audit will form the basis of an on-going management plan to direct positive actions. A self-evaluation of the actions will determine effectiveness.

There is no rush to achieve higher certification levels. Level 4 and 5 would be for those sites who have already achieved level 3. What is most important, is setting in place the organisational systems and processes to ensure student led change, based on deep formation of staff and students to drive your Earthcare programs.

*For sites already engaged with an existing sustainability program such as Victoria’s Resource Smart schools, we will work with you to integrate the two processes. Our principles include recognition of other environmental education programs provided the Formation of the Heart and celebration is documented.

Calendar of dates for 2021 are:

  • Registration by the end of February, 2021

  • Benchmark Audit: By the end of term 1

  • Implementation of Steps at level 2 or 3 by end of term 3,

  • 2021 Evaluation Report: By end of October, 2021

  • Certification by Catholic Earthcare by mid-November. 

Support

Virtual Face to face and phone support is available upon request with regular contact planned to monitor and support key contact people. Call Bernard on 0400 156 249 or email bernard.holland@caritas.org.au

Earthcare schools certification program

for Catholic schools