Caring for Creation: Sustainability Program Set at Mount St. Joseph March 17

Reviewing plans for a March 17 program at Mount St. Joseph in Wheeling are, seated from left, Nicholas Mayrand, Vishakha Maskey, Mary Ellen Cassidy and Sister Kathleen Durkin; standing from left, Danny Swan, Susan Board, Anna Marie Troiani and Beth Collins. The event’s theme is “All for One and One for All: Kinship and Caring for Creation.” Photo by Linda Comins

WHEELING — As area residents strive to “go green” in their homes and workplaces, several organizations are collaborating to present a day-long program focused on environmental issues.

The program, “All for One and One for All: Kinship and Caring for Creation,” will take place March 17 at Mount St. Joseph, located off Pogue Run Road near Wheeling. Presentations will be offered from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day.

Space is limited to 50 participants. Reservations are being accepted online from now until March 2 at The cost is a free-will donation that includes lunch.

The St. Joseph Retreat Center at Mount St. Joseph, Catholic Charities West Virginia, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Moundsville and the Sisters of St. Joseph Health and Wellness Foundation are co-sponsors of the event.

Sister Kathleen Durkin, CSJ, associate staff member of St. Joseph Retreat Center, said presentations will focus on how individuals and groups might put into practice the vision of Pope Francis’ encyclical letter, “Laudato Si (On Care for Our Common Home).”

Durkin said the day will focus on some of the issues that were addressed at “Growing Food, Health and Hope” programs held at Mount St. Joseph in the past three years, “but will expand to consider the encyclical from the perspective of food justice, family practices, institutional practices, energy efficiencies, the perspective of the millennial population and others.”

Kate Kosydar, parish social ministry coordinator of Catholic Charities West Virginia, will give a keynote address. She is expected to suggest practical, personal and institutional ways to live out the principles of the encyclical.

Presenters will include Mary Ellen Cassidy, coordinator of the New Energy Economy Program at the WALS Foundation in Wheeling; Vishakha Maskey, associate professor of management and economics at West Liberty University; Nicholas Mayrand, director of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’s Department of Formation and Mission, and Danny Swan, co-founder of Grow Ohio Valley.

Cassidy, who contends that “uninformed energy choices have unintended consequences,” will offer a session on “Energy Choices: Energy and Humanity.”

She commented, “Choosing energy sources that threaten our health, wealth and our children’s future is a choice that asks us to sacrifice our basic humanity for short-term corporate profits. Choosing energy sources that disproportionately shift their most disastrous and immediate impacts onto our poor and disenfranchised communities goes against our most cherished core values.”

Maskey will share information on WLU’s institutional sustainable practices. Mayrand will serve as co-presenter for a session on the millennial generation’s response to these issues. Swan will talk about the interaction of food, energy and the environment in society.

Students and faculty at West Liberty have launched a campaign to create a sustainable culture on campus, Maskey said. Efforts include energy conservation, recycling and a “lunch and learn” workshop series.

“Sustainabilty is everyone’s responsibility,” Maskey said.

Swan said he will talk about “how does the food we consume affect local and global communities.” He also will discuss how local food producers can generate local economic prosperity.

Mayrand will discuss how the document’s call to care for creation impacts daily life for millennials. For example, he said the theme of fragility of creation, in all its forms, affects choices that he and his wife make on a daily basis.

He observed, “There are three different ways we relate to creation: the old model of dominion over creation; the middle ground of stewards of creation; this model of kinship.”

Matt Kosydar, project coordinator for Nazareth Farm, a Catholic community in rural West Virginia, will lead a breakout session on how families can live into the principles of kinship with creation.

Beth Collins, northern regional director of Catholic Charities West Virginia, will serve as facilitator for an “action piece” that participants will develop for individuals and representatives of parishes and groups to implement, based on what they learn from the presentations. She wants the day to be “not just contemplative, but also action-filled.”

Collins said, “I hope to see group action — steps that are measurable — but also that people open their hearts.” She wants participants to consider “in their own hearts and minds, what they can do personally and in their churches” for a large action piece. They also will be asked to develop calls to action.

After listening to the presentations, attendees will be encouraged to select topics upon which they want to act. Collins said she intends to focus the conversation on four or five central ideas with “specific, measurable, attainable goals.”

Anna Marie Troiani, executive director of St. Joseph Retreat Center, is coordinating arrangements for the event. For more information, call the retreat center, 304-232-8160, ext. 112 or 141.

Regarding the program’s appeal for area residents, Susan Board, bookkeeper at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, said, “I think the whole day is going to attract both the young and us old folks.”

Pope Francis’ encyclical takes its name from the invocation of St. Francis of Assisi in the Canticle of Creation. According to scholars, the document “is developed around the concept of integral ecology.”

The letter addresses many issues, including pollution and climate change, loss of biodiversity, decline in the quality of human life and global inequality. The document also examines the human roots of the ecological crisis and explores the effects of technology and globalization.