Parramatta plays its part in multifaith prayer for climate action

By Isabell Petrinic, 28 October 2022
Participants are seen during the Faiths 4 Climate Justice multi-faith service organised by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) at St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta. Image: ARRCC/Supplied

 

Bishop Vincent Long and St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, have contributed to an Australia-wide multi-faith call for climate action.

Multi-faith climate change services were held across the country and the Pacific on Thursday 13 October — including in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta — to support the launch of an open letter that calls on the Albanese Government to move beyond fossil fuels. 

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, added his name, alongside other high-level Catholic, First Nations, Buddhist, Quaker, Muslim, Hindu, Brahma Kumaris, Jewish and Sikh leaders, to an open letter requesting that Australia:

  • Stops approving new coal and gas projects 
  • Ends public subsidies for coal and gas projects
  • Fully respects First Nations peoples’ rights to protect Country 
  • Re-starts contributions to the United Nations Green Climate Fund 
  • Assists extractive industry workers to prosper through jobs in sustainable industries 
  • Actively participates in creating and endorses a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty 

The letter and multi-faith services were organised by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) as part of a global faith campaign known as “Faiths 4 Climate Justice”, in which actions are being organised in over 40 countries in the lead-up to the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference. 

Bishop Vincent urged our legislators to heed Pope Francis’s appeal: Now is the time for new courage in abandoning fossil fuels to accelerate the development of zero- or positive-impact sources of energy,” he said. 

As a nation, we cannot claim to be a responsible global citizen in addressing the great moral challenge of our age while we lag behind other nations on climate action.” 

Green faith in Parramatta 

Led by Uniting Church Minister, Reverend Meredith Williams, the Parramatta multi-faith climate change service was a moving one, filled with climate-despairing sounds and silences, intermixed with climate hope and cautious optimism. 

Participants are seen during the Faiths 4 Climate Justice multi-faith service organised by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta. Image: ARRCC/Supplied

No matter their age, nationality or creed, the nearly 150 attendees were all championing, each in their own way, Pope Francis’ call to take care of our common home and work together to make it a cleaner place. Or the Hebrew call of Tikkun Olam (‘repairing the world’). 

Attendees took part in a guided gratitude meditation led by Mari Rhydwen, a teacher in the Zen Buddhist tradition, and filled their lungs with faith, singing All Things Bright and Beautiful, the 1848 Anglican hymn about God as revealed in nature. 

Rabbi Cantor George Mordecai roused everyone to “build this world with love”, performing on guitar the Jewish song Olam Chesed Yibaneh and, because of the group cohesion coupled with the rich reverberation, every heart was stirred up. 

ARRCC member Fahimah Badrulhisham captured the extraordinary event with a group selfie. 

The human face of climate change 

Kiribati woman, Maria Tiimon Chi-Fang, shared what climate change looks like for her small low-lying island home in the central Pacific Ocean. 

Pacific Outreach Officer of the Pacific Calling Partnership Maria Tiimon Chi-Fang speaks during the Faiths 4 Climate Justice multi-faith service organised by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta. Image: ARRCC/Supplied

The Pacific Outreach Officer of the Pacific Calling Partnership recounted how as a child she would spend time in Wenete village on the very remote island of Beru in Kiribati.  

“My Dad would teach my older brothers how to fish [and] my Mum taught us girls ancestral knowledge and skills, as well as how to weave mats and local thatch,” Maria said.  

On returning to Wenete in 2010, she was devastated to find it had been destroyed by strong storm surges and erosion. “One graveyard was completely underwater,” Maria said sadly. 

“Without strong and decisive action, my people may be forced to leave their home islands by 2050 – we risk losing our land. We risk losing our identity, and our culture.” 

It heartened her to see a young generation of ecowarriors in the pews, the environmentally conscious Gen Zers.  

Hope for our future 

Maria was making reference to students from Our Lady of Mercy College (OLMC) Parramatta, Catherine McAuley Westmead, Marist Colleges and other young people, who read out interfaith prayers for climate justice by Lindsey Fielder Cook – Quaker United Nations Office representative on climate change. 

Students from Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta, Catherine McAuley Westmead and Parramatta Marist Westmead read out interfaith prayers for climate justice during the Faiths 4 Climate Justice multi-faith service organised by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta. Image: ARRCC/Supplied

“We feel very privileged to be able to take part in this interfaith dialogue,” OLMC student Laurie Behan said. “If we don’t stand up and speak out, there won’t be anything left for future generations.”  

OLMC student Megan Keller said it was extremely valuable to see how other religions were reacting to the same issue. “We all want the same thing in the end,” she observed. 

 

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