How 5 volunteers gathered 428 ‘Healthy Planet, Healthy People’ petition signatures

by | Sep 20, 2021 | Blog, Circles, News and Updates, Season of Creation | 2 comments

The Laudato Si’ Circle of St. Austin’s Parish Msongari in Nairobi wanted to put a face on the climate crisis.

They wanted their fellow parishioners to know that the people who sit in the pews with them week after week are as worried about the climate crisis as is Pope Francis, who inspired millions by writing his encyclical Laudato Si’.

One recent weekend after six Masses, five volunteers with the circle set out to gather signatures for the “Healthy Planet, Healthy People” petition. They had only eight minutes after each Mass because of COVID-19 pandemic meeting restrictions.

Yet the handful of volunteers collected 428 signatures as the community overwhelmingly joined the effort to tell world leaders how they should care for our common home during two upcoming United Nations summits.

Sign the ‘Healthy Planet, Healthy People’ petition

“As a culture, Africans tend to respond better when there is a face attached to a cause. The more familiar the face, the better the response. It feeds into the whole community culture,” said Maryanne Owiti, a member of the circle who helped gather signatures.

“Parishioners expressed enthusiastic support for the initiative and looked forward to feeling [Laudato Si’ Movement’s] presence in the community.”

She said the circle opted to have an in-person signature event, rather than online, during the ecumenical Season of Creation because that way “a global cause feels local.”

Tens of thousands of people around the world have also signed the petition that encourages world leaders to bring Laudato Si’ to life with crucial agreements that will emerge out of two UN summits: the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), to be held from 31 October to 12 November, and the UN Conference on Biodiversity (COP15), to be held virtually from 11-15 October and in-person from 25 April to 8 May 2022.

Read more: What is COP15?

The petition calls on world leaders to “act with great urgency” and “tackle the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis together,” among its other urgent requests. Sign the “Healthy Planet, Healthy People” petition today.

Irene Kamunge works for the National Environment Management Authority in Kenya and was one of the 428 people who signed the petition at St. Austin’s.

“I believe that Christians have a responsibility to take care of the environment, which is the creation of God,” she said.

She called the petition a “very noble idea” and invited all people to join her in taking action ahead of the two UN summits.

“To end poverty and disease in the world, it is inevitable that the global community must address climate change, since it affects the quality of air, water, and biodiversity and availability of food for humankind,” she said.

Eunice Omino works for the United Nations Environment Programme and also attends St. Austin’s. She signed the petition shortly after its launch in May, and was proud of how so many of her fellow parishioners expressed “solidarity with Pope Francis” by signing the petition.

“Our leaders will not act unless we send a clear signal that we want climate justice,” she said. “We all need to advocate together for climate justice.”

More about the ‘Healthy Planet, Healthy People’ petition

Jonathon Braden
Jonathon Braden

Writer
Nebraska, USA
Jonathon Braden has more than 10 years of writing and communications experience. He seeks to tell LSM’s story.

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Marta Edgar
Marta Edgar
2 months ago

What can I do when my pastor refuses to acknowledge the climate crisis and calls Greta Thunberg “that stupid girl”? What can I do when my community considers me a misguided radical at best?