Bay Ridge Church Dedicates Garden During Laudato Si’ Week

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY

by Katie Vasquez

Tom Hinchen and Lois Seelandt are adding some native plants and flowers outside the parish house of St. Andrew the Apostle Church. The pair belong to the Care for Creation Ministry at the Bay Ridge church, which follows Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si, in which the pontiff declares the Catholic cause for protecting the planet based on scripture.

“Laudato Si has many aspects,” Hinchen said. “So Pope Francis starts in what is the state of our common home, and it’s not good.”

“You know, you can just say that or give up on it, Seelandt said. “But you can say, no, there’s something I can do about it.”

The ministry took advantage of the space outside the parish house after an accident.

“We had a water main break here in this front yard, Hinchen said. “I had also gotten the idea even before about maybe we could do something with this area.”

This year, during Laudato Si week, the Brooklyn church will dedicate a Saint Kateri Habitat named in honor of the patron saint of the environment.

“Be kind to the earth and be kind to nature, Seelandt emphasized.

The habitat must fulfill certain requirements laid out by the Saint Kateri Conservation Center that blend ecology and religion.

“No use of chemicals, planting things that are beautiful for people to appreciate, flowers that will attract pollinators. And then they also expect you to have a religious element.”

The Care for Creation Ministry has plans to expand the habitat into this underutilized backyard space because, for this Brooklyn church, caring for the environment is a year-round endeavor.

“A couple of years down the road, there’ll be less grass and more flowers, Hinchen said.

“It’s important that we just don’t remember the earth one day, that we remember it all year through, that it becomes part of the fabric of our lives, Seelandt said.

Anyone can create a Saint Kateri Habitat in a yard, school, or parish. To find out how go to