Experts provide insights to Diocesan staff for Laudato Si’ Week

By Mary-Jane Chemuel, 11 June 2024


Laudato Si’ Week is an annual celebration in Australia from 16 to 24 May that marks the anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ – Care for Our Common Home. This year’s 2024 theme, “Seeds of Hope”, encourages us to nurture our suffering planet. 

Laudato Si’ Week is a time to reflect and care more deeply for God’s creation. This year’s iteration comprises seven goals, which translate Pope Francis’ encyclical into practical action.  

This year’s Diocese of Parramatta Chancery Formation day at St Joseph’s Baulkham Hills on 24 May was focused on the seventh Laudato Si’ Goal, which invites us to embark on a synodal journey of community engagement and participatory action to protect our common home.  

We are encouraged to build up our communities at local, regional, national, and international levels so that we can face environmental and social challenges with resilience, competence, and hope.  

This goal was supported by guest speakers from Exchange for Change, TOMRA Cleanaway, St Vincent de Paul and Parramatta Women’s Shelter. Each shared with us key insights on how their organisations contribute to the circular economy and their positive impact on local and regional communities and environments across the country.  

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, the Bishop of Parramatta, welcomed our guest speakers and addressed Diocesan staff by reiterating Pope Francis’ message: “Today is an opportunity for us to learn how to be a part of the global response to the environmental crisis facing us as a country, but also as a world, a planet. 

“Laudato Si’ challenges us with a vision of a new economy that shifts away from consumption and exploitation to one that celebrates interdependence and reciprocity within the diverse webs of life. Only by wasting less and taking less from the Earth, the Pope insists that we can move to an alternative model of living in radical harmony and a deep connection with the planet.  

“Pope Francis prophetically challenged us in Laudato Si’ to a conversion of heart and a change of lifestyle so that we could align ourselves with God’s plan for the world.” 

Danielle Smalley, CEO of Exchange for Change at the Laudato Si’ Formation day. Image: Mary Brazell/ Diocese of Parramatta.


 Exchange for Change coordinates the Return and Earn scheme that allows individuals to return eligible containers to be recycled for a 10 cent refund at TORMA Cleanaway collection points. 

Danielle Smalley, Chief Executive Officer of Exchange for Change, said since 2017, 11.4 billion containers have been returned “which is an extraordinary number”. 

  “This is an example of an initiative that is driven by individuals, because sometimes climate change and the issues that the Earth is facing because of the way we treat it can be overwhelming and it’s hard to know where to start,” she said.  

“This is a great example of an initiative where you can return your containers and you can see there’s 11.4 [billion], you’re actually contributing to something much, much bigger.” 

Jamie Lawrence, Innovation and Business Development Manager at St Vincent de Paul, shared new initiatives that Vinnies has implemented in order to recycle and repurpose materials, as well as their new collaboration with Return and Earn. Vinnies has opened 10 recycling depots in regional areas, employing up to 50 people.  

Akanksha Agarwal, from Parramatta Women’s Shelter, shared their social franchise model which utilises Return and Earn for fundraising. Through Return and Earn, the organisation has been able to raise more than $4000 independently, allowing it to create opportunities and provide services to local disadvantaged communities, whilst contributing positively to the Earth through recycling. 

Members of the Diocese at the Laudato Si’ Formation day. Image: Mary Brazell/ Diocese of Parramatta.

 Julian Concato, Head of Property at the Diocese of Parramatta, updated the Chancery on the status of some of the initiatives the Diocese has adopted to improve our carbon footprint. These include changing lighting from fluorescent to LED (accounting for an 80% reduction in power consumption), automated lighting that turns off if no movement is sensed after 10 minutes, the implementation of energy efficient air-conditioning systems and various recycling initiatives. 

Through small changes, we can make a difference within our communities socially and environmentally, preserving the wonder and beauty of God’s creation. 


Find out how you can get involved in the Laudato Si’ movement within your community or in the Diocese of Parramatta here.

You can watch the Diocese of Parramatta’s Laudato Si’ Action Campaign here. 

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