Season of Creation gathers laity to basic ecology seminar

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MANILA, Sept. 23, 2013—In line with the Archdiocese of Manila’s celebration of the Season of Creation, ecological ministers from various parish organizations and ministries gathered on Saturday at the Quiapo Church for a basic ecology seminar that tackles the different environmental issues threatening the country’s natural resources. 

The Season of Creation, a month-long celebration of the Archdiocese of Manila, aims to implement programs that will raise the environmental consciousness of lay parishioners and will motivate them to protect nature against environmental degradation. 

Lou Valencia Arsenio, coordinator of the Archdiocese of Manila Ministry on Ecology, said the activity was held to deepen the knowledge of the lay faithful in acting as rightful stewards of all things created by the Divine. 

“Through increasing the awareness of the constituency of the Archdiocese of Manila, we would like to recognize and praise more fervently God as the creator of all things on Earth,” she said during the opening of the celebration held last August 31. 

Through the various activities and programs prepared for the month-long celebration of the Season of Creation, Valencia said they are aiming to develop the proactive inclination of the lay faithful to act toward the preservation and sustainable development of the environment. 

“We have to be committed in doing this…If we know that we are capable of doing something but we do not act, we fail to do our responsibility as rightful stewards of creation. Faith without action is dead,” she said. 

Context of ‘stewardship’ 

In his talk during the seminar, environmental lawyer Galahad Pe Benito said that humans must always be reminded of their role as stewards of creation so they will not abuse their dominion over what God has created. 

“In the biblical account of creation, God set humans apart from all other beings…God gave man dominion over all creation and instructed man to subdue it. This means that as the center of creation, man can do anything he wants with creation. He was given the authority to subdue all things created by God,” Benito said. 

“But we have to take this in the concept of stewardship, which means that we do not own these things. They are just given to us so we can take care and nurture them,” he added. 

Benito also said the issue on environmental degradation has long been neglected by humans due to their preoccupation on matters that only concern their personal gains. 

“If we are going to look at our history, it is only now that the environment is being given enough concern and attention. All we ever think about was to make money, protect our family, and sustain our freedom, among many others. The environment was never a concern before,” he said. 

In a world that is limited, Benito said that humans have always been compelled by the urge to gain for themselves. 

“There is something better you can do but you are not doing it because of your self-interest and greed. That is where the tragedy lies,” he said. 

“If we do not value what God has created, everything loses its meaning for it shows that we do not respect life itself,” he said. 

Environmental issues, concerns 

To further deepen the knowledge of ecological ministers regarding the current state of the Philippine environment, president of Green Convergence Nina Galang gave a talk on the current issues and concerns faced by the country’s natural resources. 

Arsenio, on the other hand, gave a talk on Climate Risk Management, focusing on how frequent changes in a country’s climate can be properly managed and how its detrimental effects can be lessened. 

Benito’s talk revolved around the history of environmental law both in the local and international scene. He noted various pivotal points in the history of the country and of the world wherein environmental concern was given attention by the people. 

Rene Pineda, also from Green Convergence, gave a talk on the State of Food Security and Food Safety, focusing on the detrimental effects of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) to the health of humans. 

The Season of Creation will run until October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. (Jennifer Orillaza)

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