The Archdiocese of Johannesburg marked the end of its season of creation on the 4th of October with a Mass celebrated at the parish of St. Francis of Assisi, Vanderbijlpark. The Mass was celebrated by the Dean of the Deanery of Vaal, Fr. Solomon Mphela, preceded by the tree planting ceremony.
This celebration closed off the season of creation which began on the 1st of September 2022 where the Mass was celebrated by the Archbishop of Johannesburg, Archbishop Buti Tlhagale. At the beginning of September The Justice and Peace Department of the Catholic Archdiocese of Johannesburg invited the SACBC Justice and Peace for the campaign launch of “Greening the Archdiocese” which was done on the 1st September at St Peter Catholic Church in Kagiso. The Justice and Peace Department said it is committed to help the faithful and their communities to be conscious of the care of creation by getting involved in various actions of environmental justice.
At the Mass of the launching of the season of creation Archbishop Buti Tlhagale said he welcomes the ‘Greening Campaign’ and encouraged the faithful to embark on renewing the environment and also allow themselves to be renewed too. He encouraged every family within the Archdiocese to plant a tree as a sign of commitment in their renewal process. He also noted that climate change is a reality and people need to be involved in actions for the care of creation, including the preservation of water. After the Mass on the 1st of September, six trees were planted: three at the Parish and three at John Martin Catholic School. The SACBC Justice and Peace said these words of Pope Francis do bring encouragement to everyone, “As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling.”
Speaking of St. Francis at the closing Mass of the season of creation Fr. Mphela said, “He remains as popular today as he was in his lifetime. His love for animals and for God’s creation has made him an icon of the environmental movement.” Fr. Mphela said today offers the faithful an opportunity to reflect on Francis’ legacy, faith, and his significance today. He said as Saint Francis bore the marks of the suffering of Christ both physically and spiritually, the Church today, as the body of Christ continues to carry those marks, “It is an obligation for us to live up to the example of St. Francis in caring for the most neglected in our society, be cause they our brothers and sisters. It is an obligation to us to speak for those who have little or no voice because they too are the children of God.”
In concluding his message Fr. Mphela said God is calling everyone to be close to Him, to allow Him to grab hold of everyone and transform each person in His love. Adding that along with the invitation come God’s promise that once He has hold of each person he will never let go.
The Episcopal Vicar for Environmental Affairs for the Archdiocese of Johannesburg, Fr. Khomotso Sebopela, who was part of both the opening and closing ceremonies of the season of creation said so far they have managed to plant 300 trees. He said the project was done in collaboration with Johannesburg City Parks and the aim to continue to plant at least 100 trees each month in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg. Fr. Sebopela noted that even though the Season of Creation has come to a close in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg they have decided to continue with the project of Greening the Archdiocese until the feast of St. Francis next year, 2023.