On July 31, 2023, the young members of the Laudato Si’ Circle, part of the Franciscan Youth Movement, repeated an event in Marineo (Palermo) called “The Letter: United for Our Mother Earth.” The aim of the event was to increase awareness among the citizenry on environmental issues and the care of our common home.

The event was promoted by the friars of the local friary. The original event took place on May 8, 2023, with over a hundred participants. These included the mayor, members of the civil administration and representatives of ecclesial and Franciscan associations. At that time, everyone suggested the event should be repeated during the summer to reach a wider audience. Indeed, the second version had over three hundred participants and took place in the splendid setting of a sixteenth-century castle.
In July of 2023, all of Sicily and greater Palermo, including Marineo, suffered through a heatwave that exceeded 47°C [116°F]. There were many devastating wildfires which burned forests and reduced a historic Franciscan church from the 1400’s to ashes and consumed the relics of two holy Franciscans: St. Benedict the Moor and Blessed Matteo da Gimara, Bishop of Agrigento. At the same time, vast areas of northern Italy were crippled by severe thunderstorms and hail.
Hearing about and experiencing the effects of climate change across Mediterranean basin is raising people’s interest in environmental issues. Areas around the world once considered immune to climate change and deforestation are now being affected, even though the scientific community has long been warning about these issues.
This perhaps is the driving force behind the commitment of the Franciscan Youth Movement to protect the environment. The youth are being supported in this by the friars of the Province of St. Agatha and St. Lucy in Italy (Sicily) and the Provincial Custody of St. Daniel and Companion Martyrs in Italy (Calabria). Local associations and communities are now asking the Franciscan Youth Movement to carry out additional awareness-raising events in their cities. In the coming months, in fact, four other events have already been scheduled in as many cities in Sicily. More events are being planned with youth from schools and ecclesial associations. The Franciscan Youth Movement intends to build relationships with them based on their sensitivity to environmental protection issues. In addition to the awareness-raising events, projects are being planned to remediate the damage caused by waste plastic and other refuse. More tree planting events are being scheduled for areas affected by the wildfires, tree planting events such as the one carried out on May 1, 2023, at the Madonnina del Lago Franciscan Oasis in Pergusa, (Sicily) Italy. These events are opportunities to build bridges of fraternity with young people in the name of our Sister Mother Earth.

The youth of the Laudato Si’ Circle