As Catholics, we are called to be stewards of God’s creation. When we are stewards of creation our actions show the Creator we respect all life and have concern for all people.
Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home was the first encyclical to be entirely dedicated to the topic of environmental issues. Inspired by Saint Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures, “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us,” the encyclical demonstrates that environmental issues are a priority of Pope Francis’ papacy. Written to "every person living on this planet," Pope Francis has asked citizens of the world to acknowledge, discuss, and take personal responsibility in meeting environmental challenges. (For more information about Laudato Si’ or to access an electronic version of the encyclical, visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops web site.)
Explore and download the printable stewardship resources below and encourage every member of your parish, school, faith formation program, etc. to use them throughout the month and all year. These resources will help children and families understand, reflect on, and answer the call to be stewards of the environment.
Switching off an unnecessary light, recycling a newspaper, and utilizing public transportation are all acts of stewardship. These acts – done by us and by others– add to a collective commitment that can make a difference in our vast and beautiful world. By participating in the care of creation, we can feel a sense of empowerment that comes from contributing to the greater good. Although originally designed for children, the Stewards of God's Creation Lesson can be used by participants of any age to reflect on ways to care for God’s gifts of creation. Download this colorful lesson and prayer celebration and complete the activities with children, your family, or as a personal exercise to see how to better care for our natural environment!
Download a FREE printable eBook that contains ideas to teach and inspire children to care for creation. The activities outlined in this eBook can be done at home by families or in classroom setting when traditional religious education programs resume. Grab this printable download and start reading the Book of Genesis or going on a litter hunt today!
Using resources carefully and helping to care for the planet is the responsibility of all disciples, regardless of our age. Even the youngest disciples can help to be stewards of creation. One of the ways to encourage this stewardship is by teaching young disciples about creation in order to develop wonder, awe, and gratitude for God’s gifts.
In the story of Genesis, we learn that God gave us many gifts, including the gifts of light and water. Share the story of creation from a children’s Bible (Genesis Chapter 1). After you read, reiterate the things that God made, and that they were good. Then, download the God’s Gifts Together Activity to share with early childhood or primary aged children.
This activity will appeal especially to Catholic kids who are inclined to naturalist and visual-spatial activities. In this activity, they will learn that God’s gifts of light and water work together to create something special: a rainbow! The activity includes a printable lesson plan to share with catechists or families.
Gather crayons, markers, or colored pencils for the children to use. Distribute an activity sheet to each child. Ask the children to share their experiences of seeing rainbows in the sky after a rainstorm. Have volunteers identify each picture shown. Then, invite children to color the sun, the cloud, rain, and rainbow. (You may want to review the colors of the rainbow in advance). Hang completed activity sheets on a class bulletin board or send them home with the children as a reminder of the beauty of God’s creation and a reminder of God’s gifts of light and water. The discussion of rain and rainbows is also an excellent opportunity to discuss the importance of water health in our environment.
To conclude the activity, pray a prayer of thanks to God for the gifts of creation.
Saint Francis’ Canticle of Creation is a hymn in praise of creation. It reflects his deep respect for nature and animals. Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home, is named from this canticle. The Canticle of Creation Prayer Card can be colored and prayed by disciples of all ages.
Care of creation entails a deep respect for the natural world and a commitment to safeguarding the environment. It is also important to increase our love for all of God’s creation and take delight in the marvels around us. Psalm 148 is often referred to as a hymn of praise for creation. Use the Reflection on Psalm 148 to nurture a reverence for creation and perceive the divine mystery in the beauty of creation. Reflect on parts of this psalm with your class, family, or as a personal exercise.
Encourage families to enjoy God’s creation together during the month of April! The Springtime Activities for Families handout especially includes four simple activity suggestions that connect family members to God, to nature, to each other as they experience the beauty of the spring season.
The Our Faith and Earth Sustainability Support Article reviews Pope Benedict XVI’s call for a commitment to care for creation and examines the particular effect that environmental changes will pose to the poor. This article challenges us to commit to care for God’s creation and to care for those who are poor. It includes suggestions for implementation in class and at home.
Download and share the Our Faith and Earth Sustainability Support Article with the families in your religious education program in conjunction with any Earth Day celebrations and alongside Laudato Si resources and conversation.
Download a In Thanksgiving for the Gifts of God’s Creation Prayer Card and use it in the classroom or parish to enhance your children's appreciation of nature’s bounty.
Renewing the Earth, the U.S. Bishop’s pastoral letter on environmental justice states, “At its core, the environmental crisis is a moral challenge. It calls us to examine how we use and share the goods of the earth, what we pass on to future generations, and how we live in harmony with God’s creation.” This call speaks to children’s intrinsic and intuitive understanding that care for creation is fundamental.
Today’s children recognize that if we teach respect for life, then we need to respect nature and the interconnectedness of all life. Educators and parents must nurture children’s vision of the sacramentality of the whole universe, which was blessed into being by God.
Download a Caring for Community Support Article that addresses the issue of environmental justice and includes suggestions of ways that young people can show care for creation both at home and in school.
Families can plan a multi-day event around the care for creation with the help of the Go Green! Planner and Presentation. This downloadable PowerPoint™ Presentation allows you to prepare for a whole community event and provides the slides needed for the leader to implement the event. Once downloaded, it is customizable.
In the event, participants will learn how the call to care for God's creation is part of Catholic Social Teaching. They will expand their understanding of stewardship that includes respect for and protection of the natural environment. Finally, they will identify ways to “go green” through the practice of stewardship at home and in collaboration with others.
These free printable resources can be used in the classroom or at home to explore the call to care for God’s creation. As Catholics, we must all commit to safeguarding the environment and strive to increase our love for all of God’s natural wonders. Earth Day is one more opportunity to open ourselves to nature’s restorative powers and to glorify God, as John Paul II advised.
“Our very contact with nature has a deep restorative power; contemplation of its magnificence imparts peace and serenity. The Bible speaks again and again of the beauty of creation, which is called to glorify God.” Saint Pope John Paul II