Care and protection of Mother Earth and finding our spiritual connections in harmony with Nature was the theme of a special foundation and mentoring session conducted by undergraduate students in Bihar, India.
The students from the MassCom department of St. Xavier’s College of Management and Technology joined hundreds of institutions across the world in a celebration of Laudato Si‘ week.. The session was held in the shade of large banyan trees at the Taru Mitra Bio-reserve, adjacent to the college.
In this interfaith gathering, students sang hymns and songs, read out prayers, and shared experiences with resource persons and their mentors during the session.
“Eco-spirituality, the realization of the presence of God in all living things and in creation, is at a level above the narrow confines of a particular religion. It is the call for all the people on earth, realizing the workings of the divine through different ways, in tune with each one’s own culture and religion,” Devopriya Dutta of Taru Mitra told the sixty students. Ms. Dutta spoke of meeting Pope Francis when she represented Taru Mitra at a Laudato Si event in Rome a few years back.
Laudato Si promotes the concept of ‘integral ecology’. It has seven goals. They are: response to the cry of the Earth; response to the cry of the poor; ecological economics; adoption of simple lifestyles; ecological education; ecological spirituality; and emphasis on community involvement and participatory action. The mentors of the Mass Communication Department of the college have planned to work with the students on these themes around the academic year, says Laudato Si’ animator Frank Krishner who is currently coordinator of the MassCom Department of SXCMT.
The director of Taru Mitra, Jesuit Father Antony Pendanath told the students that “Laudato Si’, mi’ Signore” means “Praise be to you, my Lord” and is taken from a canticle by Saint Francis of Assisi which reminds us earth like a sister. Numerous scientists, philosophers, theologians, and civic groups also share this concern. He spoke of the relevance of the theme of laudato Si week 2022, “Listening and Journeying Together”.
Mr Vikas Kumar, the mentor for second year students of the department, spoke of how the greenery and breathing spaces in old Patna city area have disappeared within the short span of 20 years, and reminded students that merely paying lip service to environmental causes wasn’t enough.
The event was coordinated by MassCom students Vikash Kumar, Aditya Sagar, Jahnavi Srivastava, and Seema Kisku. Ishu, Vikash, Sanya, and Ruchika led the singing.
“This class, held under the trees, with the calls of the birds in the air, was fabulous,” remarked Aditya Sagar, a student.
“The songs sung by my classmates and the togetherness in nature was touching,” said Richa.
“We must plan to have more sessions and take the movement forward,” Vikash Kumar stated. It was a sentiment echoed by several other students as well.