The theme for Catholic schools this year is “Care for Our Common Home” based on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si. The media’s emphasis has been primarily on the natural environmental aspects of Pope Francis’ teachings. This is good, but Francis has a larger picture in mind.
What Pope Francis is trying to get people to do is to be more caring and mindful of how our actions effect others. For example, when we pollute, we impact the lives of the poor around the world who are most vulnerable to environmental degradation. On a very local level, however, we can consider so many of our actions and how they impact those around us in unintentional ways.
One example of how we can show care for our common home is by being safe and setting a good example for our children. Sure, parking in the wrong direction or crossing not at the crosswalk may not result in immediate harm, but when a child sees an adult they respect do this they learn bad habits. After seeing speeding drivers and jaywalkers they learn two things: 1) rules are subjective and 2) it’s okay to take risks.
Another seemingly small thing where we can show greater care is uniform policy. It may seem like no big deal to wear a shirt without a crest or a pair of pants from Walmart, but in doing so you are effecting your child’s view of rules and lowering the standard for the entire school. It’s not just the principal’s job to enforce rules. It takes buy-in and cooperation from the entire community.
We can show care by welcoming new people into our community. I know it can be awkward saying hi to some one you do not know, but think about how they feel? We pride ourselves on being a welcoming community, yet I see new parents waiting alone after school. We can show care by welcoming them and making them feel at home.
Pope Francis’ hope for the world is that we can be more mindful of how our actions, no matter how small, can impact the world around us. We can think about greenhouse gasses and oil spills, but we can also think of matters closer to home. Let’s make this a great school year not by the grand things we do, but as St. Teresa of Calcutta said, by “doing small things with great love.”
Thanks for reading!