The initiative, which begins on Monday 20th September 2021 will see young people in schools across Solihull, Birmingham and Warwickshire, challenged to think more responsibly about the climate. Through a series of inclusive activities spanning over two weeks, students will be engaged to take action to bring about change. This will set the stage for a celebratory Mass at 10am on the 4th October 2021, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of the environment, at St. Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham.
In November this year, the UK is hosting the UN climate summit, known as COP26, in Glasgow. This will be the most ambitious climate summit ever. The programme has been designed by James and his team to engage students to prepare for the COP26. It takes into account the upcoming ecumenical ‘Season of Creation’, an annual occasion when the global Christian family unites to pray and take action for our common home and ‘Great Big Green Week’, an opportunity for communities to hold events that raise awareness of climate change and the need to protect the planet.
The Columban’s Justice and Peace Education Worker James Trewby explains “It is fantastic for the Columbans to be a part of the launch of this new programme and to be able to help educators and young people explore the relationship between faith and action on social justice issues.” He adds, “It is a privilege to work with a team of over 700 staff to shape the future of Catholic education for over 4,500 children across the Solihull, Birmingham and Warwickshire.”
The programme, backed by the Columbans in Britain, will begin on the Monday morning with schools across the MAC holding assemblies that educate students on the causes and effects of the climate crisis, the importance of creation and our role in helping to protect it.
Students will then watch an interview between young people and Marjorie Engcoy, a Columban Lay Missionary who lives and works in Fiji and advocates for climate justice. She will explain the devastating impact of climate change on those living in the country, and detail her experience of flash flooding, heat waves and landslides – direct consequences of the effects of climate change. Marjorie will explain our role as Christians which is to listen to the cry of the people and the cry of the earth. She will challenge the young people to be bold and to stand up for the voiceless, providing proactive ways they can take action.
During the second week, students will be encouraged to put their faith into action. James and his planning team have arranged a variety of activities to improve the student’s understanding of the climate emergency and what caring for creation looks like. With the help of their educators, students will be stimulated to think creatively about things they can to which will raise awareness of climate change and motivate others. This might be through the composition of pieces of music, choreographed dance routines, artwork made from recycled materials, banners and prayers. Some of these will be used in the Mass at St. Chad’s Cathedral on Monday 4th October 2021.
Teachers have also been asked to try and create a dialogue with their local Members of Parliament (MP). Students will write letters to their local MPs challenging them to put pressure on the UK Government. Bringing the two week long programme to an end, students will have the opportunity after the Mass to meet with political leaders in Victoria Square. They’ll be able to hand in their letters and explain why tackling climate change is extremely important not only for creation and to protect marginalised communities around the world who experience the worst of the climate emergency, but for them, their futures and generations to come.
The Our Lady and All Saints Catholic Multi Academy Company comprises of 12 primary schools and one secondary school in the Solihull, Birmingham and Warwickshire areas. By working collaboratively, each school benefits educationally from the expertise within the MAC as a whole and practically from the services procured and provided centrally which helps to shape the future of Catholic education.
“Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”