Laudato Si’ grants awarded to two archdiocesan schools


The Catholic Climate Covenant recently announced winners of the Victory Noll Sisters Small Grants Program, and two organizations in the Archdiocese of San Francisco were among the 100 winners.

St. Anne of the Sunset Parish and School in San Francisco and Notre Dame Elementary in Belmont have each been awarded $1,000 to support their efforts to live the message of Laudato Si’.

Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home” urgently appeals to all persons “for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.” The encyclical’s title of Laudato Si’ is the Latin for “Praise be” the first words of the 2015 encyclical.

At St. Anne, the Laudato Si’ programs have grown substantially within the last year. The parish formed small faith communities for Lent in 2021, and one group focused on Laudato Si’. During this time a group of students worked together to create a carbon fast calculator and a calendar with ideas for action. The project culminated with the installation of a pollinator garden on the grounds of the Convent.

Since then, projects have included neighborhood cleanups and an eco-friendly Christmas wrapping event. For this activity, students wrapped gifts with materials that were recyclable or compostable, as opposed to traditional wrapping paper. This included the gifts wrapped as donations to the St. Joseph’s Family Center.

“That activity is something that people really appreciated,” said Rachel Leluc, Pastoral Programs coordinator, who is overseeing the Laudato Si’ programs at St. Anne.

Their projects provide an opportunity for students to gain service hours, but are generally open to both students and parishioners. The grant funds will help them to continue to build programming as they evaluate the most effective way to bring Laudato Si’ issues into parish and school life, she said.

“I just really wanted to educate, I wanted people to say ‘Laudato Si’ easy,” Leluc shared.

The second grant recipient, Notre Dame Elementary, will use the funds to send sixth graders to an outdoor education program, where they will learn about the environment in connection to Catholic teaching on the subject.

Students at Notre Dame Elementary work in the garden

“Our students love being involved in the outdoors,” said Sara Maennle, vice principal and eighth grade homeroom teacher at Notre Dame. She noted that the campus also allows them to be outdoors on a regular basis, as the site includes open spaces filled with trees, plants, and animals. “Our students do not take this beauty for granted.”

Students also live the message of Laudato Si’ by composting, recycling, cultivating a garden in the preschool yard, and incorporating creation into their prayers. They learn in particular about Sister Dorothy Stang, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur who was killed while living in Brazil, working with the people there and speaking out against destruction of the rainforest.

“Our goal with the money, support and knowledge from the Laudato Si’ program is to continue to give our students and teachers a high level of awareness of our environmental needs and responsibilities,” Maennle stated.

The Victory Noll Sisters Small Grants Program was offered by the Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters, with the support of the Catholic Climate Covenant. It was open to parishes, schools, and other Catholic organizations throughout the United States in support of local Laudato Si’-inspired programs.

The Laudato Si’ Action Platform, a campaign to build on the encyclical’s message through concrete actions, is currently underway globally to implement Pope Francis’ encyclical. You can participate in the Archdiocese of San Francisco by signing up here.

In 2006, inspired by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2001 statement on climate change, and supported by 19 national partners, the USCCB helped form the Catholic Climate Covenant to build ecological awareness and implement Catholic social teaching on ecology within the U.S .Church, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) helped form Catholic Climate Covenant.

Melissa Vlach is the social justice/digital media coordinator of the Office of Human Life & Dignity at the Archdiocese of San Francisco.