The celebration of the closing of the Season of Creation and the feastday of St Francis of Assisi October 4, 2021, at St Joseph’s Parish, Bikenibeu, Tarawa, Kiribati
The parish of St Joseph, Bikenibeu, Tarawa, Kiribati, gathered on the 4th of October, for feastday of St Francis and for the closing of the Season of Creation.
The day began with the Eucharistic celebration at St Vincent de Paul, Gasgony community, one of the 20 sectors of the parish, at 7am. A beautiful liturgy was prepared by the different groups within the Gasgony sector community in which all the parts of the mass were sung including the procession with the Word of God, the procession with the gifts and the thanksgiving.
About a hundred youth from the 20 sectors joined the mass. The homily includes the importance and the value of creation and the interconnectedness and the inter-dependence of creation including humans. We, humans are reminded that we are part of creation and that people cannot survive without creation. Take for instance the need for oxygen – the air we breathe, which plants produce for us freely. Without oxygen we die. St Francis is a model for us to show our solidarity and our inter-relationship and inter-dependence with creation.
After the Eucharistic celebration the youth, together with the Gasgony community and 3 FDNSC Sisters gathered at the ‘Tongo park’. Two employees from the MELAD welcomed the youth and expressed their gratitude that the Catholic Church is trying to engage its youth in the environmental awareness and activities. One of them emphasized the importance of involving the Catholic youth in these activities as they make up more than half the population of Kiribati.
The youth are reminded about their role to keep our environment clean and to stop littering. The significant role of the mangroves is explained as a breeding place for marine life and for the protection of the low-lying islands from coastal erosion. After this short introduction about the two main activities, the youth and the Catholic communities were divided into two groups: one group started the clean up along the ‘Ananau Causeway’ at Bonriki, and the other planted about a thousand mangrove seedlings. The planting took about 2 hours under the burning sun. It was a worthwhile activity to mark the closing of the Season of creation and the feastday of St Francis Assisi, the patron saint of ecologists, environmentalists and all those caring for the earth, our common home.
There is a plan to continue the general clean up as part of the preparation for the Episcopal consecration of Bishop-elect Fr Koru Tito and the planting of mangrove seedlings as one practical way to protect our low-lying islands from future king tides and rising sea levels. This is also an act of solidarity and a positive response to the call made by Pope Francis in his encyclical ‘Laudato si’ which focuses on caring for the earth – our common home.
After the clean up and the planting of mangrove seedlings the youth had lunch followed by some fun games, entertainment, and social activities. It was a time not only to socialize among themselves but also a time to be with nature and enjoy themselves with nature.
A word of gratitude to the Catechists and aspiring catechists and their wives and the Gasgony Catholic community for their great support in preparing the liturgy and also their support in preparing lunch for the youth and for those who participated in this important event.