Priests of Missionary Society of St Thomas the Apostle (MST) have delved a day reflecting and discussing Laudato Si, the papal encyclical on care of our common home. Laudato Si includes among the other papal documents MST priests have chosen for their personal and collective reflection during their Inter Regional Meetings of all member priests in year 2016-17.

The first of its meeting was held in Jeevan Jyoti a seminary of MST located in the beautiful rural landscape of Sri Ranga Patna surrounded by Cauveri River and sugarcane fields on 17-19 May 2016. The residents of Ganjam village are ordinary farmers and artisans whose livelihood is solely dependent on the local natural resources or small businesses.

The seminar named Down to Earth was guided and facilitated by Fr Jose Vallikatt with various input sessions, activities, discussions and presentations. He inspired the members with the question Pope Francis raises: What kind of world are we keeping for the generations to come?

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Fr Jose joining students of Santhom School in Mandya planting saplings of trees as part of Laudato Si seminar for MST priests.

The sessions reminded the members to promote eco-initiatives focused on raising awareness and protecting earth and its natural resources.

One activity during the two day long meeting was gifting and planting plant saplings in the campus of Santhom School. All the 40 members under the leadership of Fr Kurian Ammanathukunnel, the DG of MST and Fr Francis Kureekkal, the RD of MST enthusiastically planted various saplings of trees in the campus.

The students of Santhom school participated in the planting programme which they said that was a different experience. The Additional Collector who inaugurated the programme emphasized that preserving cultural heritage and customs, or fighting the exploitation of natural resources in the name of  development is need of the time. Fr Jiby Thekkemuriyil the principal of Santhom school has organised everything for the planting of trees in the campus.

Addressing the participants at the inauguration of the seminar, Fr Kurian Ammanathukunnel stressed that caring for our common home is part of the evangelising mission of MST.

Fr Jose in his sessions repeatedly reminded the members that the care for the environment does not just mean planting trees… caring for our common home means protection of the Earth and all it contains, especially the needy and the poor. He explained the idea of integral ecology or human ecology.