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You are here: Home » GreenFaith in the Media » Press Clips » Second Sunday of Lent: Transfigured Sacrifice

Second Sunday of Lent: Transfigured Sacrifice

By Christine M. Elliott
Franciscan Action Network

GreenFaith helps St. Mary's Church in Pompton Lakes, NJ to renew their religious commitment to environmental stewardship through eco-themed worship services, energy conservation, solar arrays, and other 'green' improvements.

Second Sunday of Lent: Transfigured Sacrifice

Solar arrays adorn a roof at St. Mary's


In 2006, Jackie Schramm, Director of Social Justice at the Franciscan community of St. Mary’s Parish in Pompton Lakes, NJ, and their JustFaith committee, North Jersey Citizens for Environmental Action, sought the assistance of GreenFaith and Interfaith Power and Light to host a screening of “An Inconvenient Truth” as a way to learn more about caring for creation in response to climate change. They invited Rev. Fletcher Harper, Episcopalian priest and Executive Director of GreenFaith to speak at St. Mary’s on two occasions to enliven the spiritual foundation of their Franciscan tradition’s care for creation. A desire for sustainability in their worship, education, and meeting spaces emerged. Pastor Fr. Kevin Downey, OFM, approved the formation of a taskforce to develop with GreenFaith a plan of action for the parish’s renewal.

Rev. Harper assisted Director of Parish Programming, Michael Burck, and the taskforce in a
multi-year process to identify and implement more sustainable practices. Parish “audits” of
energy use and waste in the 100-year-old complex of church, school, parish center, and office buildings led to significant changes, such as eliminating toxic cleaning products, repairing air leakages, and replacing light bulbs. School Principal Sr. Mary Byrnes, PBVM encouraged paperless lunch hours and lesson plans to help youth learn about caring for creation, and hosted a GreenFaith training program for other New Jersey Catholic Schools. The parish also received a $130,000 rebate from the state of New Jersey to install solar panels on its 20,000-square-foot Faith Formation Center. The panels provide electricity for the parish, which may at some point be able to sell back energy.

Local, state, and national awareness and advocacy also came to life through a
JustFaith/GreenFaith Environmental Justice Bus Tour in Newark, NJ, in 2008 and 2009 and
JustFaith members’ participation in the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days on “Enough for All Creation” in Washington, D.C. in March 2009. These experiences forged an Environmental Advocacy Group (EAG), which joined FAN’s “Franciscan Campaign for Climate Change.” The EAG collected 1,200 postcards from parishioners June 13-14 and sent several delegations to area Members of Congress to support climate change policies consistent with Franciscan values. The House of Representatives passed a climate change bill on June 26, 2009.

In November 2009, GreenFaith honored St. Mary’s Parish with certification as a “Sustainable Sanctuary.” JustFaith will participate in another Environmental Justice Bus Tour this February 28, and EAG members will attend Ecumenical Advocacy Days in March as the parish and community continue to explore ways to live out care for creation through advocacy; individual and community action; and preaching.

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