Climate change conference at Knock Shrine

A one-day conference entitled Climate Change and Me: Rising to the Laudato Si Challenge will take place at Knock Shrine on Saturday April 30. The event is being planned and co-ordinated by the Faith Renewal team at Knock Shrine, headed by Fr Richard Gibbons, in response to Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, which highlights the great need for discussion and debate about the issue of climate change. ‘On Care For Our Common Home’, the encyclical critiques consumerism and irresponsible development, laments environmental degradation and global warming, and calls on all people of the world to take "swift and unified global action."

Fr Gibbons has spoken about the enormous significance of Laudato Si, saying, “Laudato Si encourages open and honest debate about the pressing contemporary issue of climate change and we hope to really engage people and get them thinking and talking about climate change. In essence, what we really want is to create a buzz and it is our intention that this will be one of many such events at the Shrine in the coming years. By organising an event in our own community, we hope the event will appeal to a wide audience, from schools and universities to tidy town committees, to people who simply want to make a positive change in their everyday lives.”

This event will feature John Sweeney, professor of geography and head of the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Unit (ICARUS ) at NUI Maynooth, as keynote speaker who will deliver a lecture on the science of climate change and contemporary thought in this area. In anticipation of the event, he emphasised its significance saying: “Time is running out for taking decisive action to avoid dangerous climate change. As individuals and a society our ethical responsibilities demand we take seriously what is generally agreed to be the major problem of the 21st century.”

Also attending and speaking will be eco-theologian, Fr Sean McDonagh, who delivered a very successful talk in Knock in November, as well as Joanne McGarry, Trócaire campaigns officer. The conference will offer a mix of interesting and engaging elements as there will be a range of talks on ‘back-garden environmentalism’, which will focus on offering practical advice on issues such as such water conservation, recycling, and sustainable living. This event will also include speakers on sustainability to offer advice on how to make changes in our everyday lives and communities. There will be exhibition stands on the day from the Irish Beekeepers Association and Green Sod, among many other environmental groups. Ann Lavin, head of horticulture at Knock Shrine and one of the organisers of the event, said: “It is a chance to get people together to grow awareness and start a discussion about climate change in our area. So much can be achieved by simply being more mindful and respectful of the resources we use every day. Although it’s a very worrying topic, the conference is a really positive start in addressing the issue.”

The conference is supported by Mayo Day, Trócaire, and Knock Community Futures. The conference will take place in the Rest and Care Centre at 10am. Registration is €10 and students go free. To find out more go to www.knockshrine.ie/climatechange To book your place, phone (094 ) 93 88100 or email: [email protected].

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