Eco-Congregation Award – presented to SMA Parish, Wilton, Cork

“Sky, light, clouds, living things- the delicacy of a flower, the play of the wind on your cheeks. These are the caresses of God. All of you here in the SMA parish in Wilton are invited to experience these caresses every day.”
– Sr. Catherine Brennan, Eco-Congregations

Sunday, November 3, 2018, was a momentous and historic day for the SMA parish at Wilton, Cork. After years of community collaboration and creativity, inspired by Pope Francis’ great environmental encyclical Laudato Si’, the parish was presented with the Eco-Congregations Award. 

Sr. Catherine Brennan presents the Eco-Congregations Award to Fr. Michael O’Leary, right, in the presence of Bishop Buckley, left

This was recognized as a significant development both by the diocese of Cork and Ross and by the city of Cork, evidenced by the presence of Bishop Buckley and by Cllr. Fergal Denney, representing the Lord Mayor of Cork. 

The award was presented by Sr. Catherine Brennan, who travelled from Dublin on behalf of Eco-Congregation to make the presentation. Presenting the award Sr. Catherine said:

“Parishes of today are more than the priest, the people, the liturgy, prayer and pastoral ministry. The parish of the 21st Century includes the whole bio region, the whole of the community of life: the air, the water, the climate, the soil, the crops, the trees, flowers and animals are all included.

“Creation is caring for us and hopefully we are caring for creation. Pope Francis says in Laudato Si’ that all is interconnected, interrelated and interdependent. And again:

Fruits of the earth, grown in Wilton Parish, are presented during the offortory procession during Sunday mass, at which the Eco-Congregation Award was presented.

Each creature has its own purpose. None is superfluous.
The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, God’s boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God.(LS 84 )

Sky, light, clouds, living things- the delicacy of a flower, the play of the wind on your cheeks. These are the caresses of God. All of you here in the SMA parish in Wilton are invited to experience these caresses every day.”

Sr. Catherine concluded her presentation by quoting the words of an ancient poet:

‘The Holy Spirit sleeps in the stone,
dreams in the flower and awakens to life in humanity’

The Eco-Congregation Award

Reflecting on the award, the parish priest of SMA Wilton, Fr. Michael O’Leary told the SMA Communications Department:

“The reception of the award from the Eco Congregation was a nice gesture for the parish. I found it significant because our parish in Wilton is not like most parishes, a church building and perhaps a priest’s house. Here in Wilton in addition to these we have a very active Parish Centre and the house for the retired SMA priests. We all had to come on board and play a part; we did and it was an interesting challenge for all of us.

“Also I found it significant that as a Catholic church we received the award in November, a time when our churches are occupied with remembering the dead. The award was a gesture to highlight our concern for future generations and not just those of the past. We have become used to seeing our schools flying their “Green Flags” showing how the young people of Ireland are addressing these important issues. It’s nice to see a church that is largely occupied by elderly people now making this gesture and showing that this is an issue we are also concerned about. We might not have a Green Flag but we now have the plaque showing to one and all that we are a community who also care for this world and not just the next!”

We send our congratulations to Fr. Michael, the Wilton Justice and Peace Group, and all other members of the parish community who worked so hard to achieve this prestigious award. We hope that it will be an inspiration to other parishes throughout Ireland to integrate creation theology and its practical expression in their expression of a living faith in Jesus, Lord of the Universe. 

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To mark the occasion the following leaflet was produced. It outlines the efforts made by the Wilton parish community over the past two years to achieve the Award. To view the leaflet please click here.