During 2015, the SMA introduced the Thumbprint Campaign for Climate Justice and with the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si, it rapidly attracted interest for its timely message and unique approach. It was first presented at SMA events and then delivered to schools and parishes in Ireland and in London.
This initiative, which invites each person to make their individual commitment to caring more for creation and those with whom we share it, has proved very attractive to both adults and children as a means of highlighting the connection between social justice and faith. It has also been an effective way of engaging new people in a relevant way with the work of SMA both in Africa and Ireland, and the importance of every person’s contribution.
Due to increasing interest in the Thumbprint Campaign, the SMA decided to advertise for volunteers with an interest in Climate Justice or care for creation to undertake training in delivery of the Thumbprint Campaign for Climate Justice. During the Summer of 2016, advertisements were widely circulated and, beginning in October, training was held in Dublin, Claregalway, Dromantine, the Midlands and twice in Cork, with a total of 43 people having been trained to date.
A number of the volunteers, who generally work in teams of two, have now begun to deliver the Thumbprint in school and parishes across Ireland. They come from a variety of backgrounds: some are retired teachers, some are returned missionaries, some have a particular interest in ecological matters or care for creation, and others are actively involved in their parish or community life. In addition, a group of students in Tuam have become the first to be trained to deliver the Thumbprint Campaign as a component element in their Pope John Paul II Faith Awards.
These Volunteers and students represent one aspect of SMA Ireland. Through their engagement with the Thumbprint Campaign, by raising awareness of the pressing issue of climate change, and promoting the need to live in harmony with the earth and take responsibility for how our lives impact on others, they are a vital part of the SMA mission in Ireland