Caring for creation: making it personal Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Apr. 21, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

As a small child, I can remember watching my grandmother work in the garden on the family farm. It was so peaceful to be outside in such a beautiful setting.

My father also had a garden in the backyard of our house in La Crosse when I was young. As a teacher, he had summers off and had the time to plant a big garden. At harvest time, he often went through the neighborhood giving away beets, tomatoes, and other extra vegetables.

I enjoyed helping him plant and care for the vegetables and flowers (which were my favorite part of the garden). To this day, there is nothing I like better than digging in the soil and planting flowers. The smell of the dirt and the sound of insects always make me feel good.

Caring for creation

But besides being an enjoyable hobby, it turns out that getting involved in personally caring for our world is actually part of our responsibility as children of God and stewards of the Earth he created.

As Pope Francis said in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home), “There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions, and it is wonderful how education can bring about real changes in lifestyle.”

The Holy Father mentions specific ways that we can care for creation, including such things as “avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices.”

Helping the world

As we celebrate Earth Day on April 22, it is a special opportunity to reflect on what Pope Francis said about the importance of caring for our environment and getting involved personally.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) sent out a list of 10 ways to help the world on Earth Day. You can find all 10 of them on the CRS website ( Here are some of the more personal actions we can take:

1. Plant a tree in your community. Trees clean the air and provide oxygen. They help prevent soil erosion and can conserve energy. They are also beautiful.

2. Support farmers and their families. Farmers help us feed our families and steward the Earth’s resources for future generations. By giving a bag of fertilizer, for instance, you are helping farmers nourish soil, reap better harvests, and earn more income.

3. Pray. Pope Francis advocates greater stewardship of global resources as one way to help our most vulnerable sisters and brothers. Please pray for those who suffer the most from environmental disasters.

4.  Attend a farmers’ market. These stands offer locally grown produce that’s nearly as fresh as picking it yourself. By supporting local farmers’ markets, you are also supporting your neighbors. Find a farmers’ market near you. (Editor’s note: Attending a farmers’ market is another one of my favorite pastimes, and the food is so tasty!)

5. Support fair trade. One of CRS Fair Trade’s partners is Serrv, which has a new spring collection of home and garden gifts. When you support fair trade, you are supporting artisans around the world with fair wages and better access to markets.

These suggestions are just a jumping off point on how we can care for creation by the personal choices we make each and every day.