By Emily Drooby
Demands for action to prevent climate change rang through lower Manhattan on the afternoon of September 20.
Held ahead of a UN summit on climate change, many of those calls to action came from students — including those from the Brooklyn Diocese.
With the help of the Sisters of St. Joseph, students from their four locally sponsored schools traded in their textbooks for posters and attending Friday’s climate change rally.
“Because at the end of the day, it’s powers in numbers. It’s like I want to come out and support everybody, support what I believe in,” explained Jeuel Calhoun, a student at St. Joseph High School in Brooklyn.
For Isabel Merat and other teens from The Mary Louis Academy, fighting climate change is engrained in the fabric of their school.
“I’m going to Mary Louis. We advocate for change when it comes to the environment, like we are so involved: we have a garden, we do neighborhood clean-up. We take that very seriously, and I’m here protesting with my school trying to make a difference in the environment,” she said.
Climate change is also an issue close to Pope Francis’s heart.
In Laudato si’, the Holy Father’s second encyclical, he discusses the importance of caring for our common home. A quote from Laudato si’ graced the backs of the Sisters of St. Joseph’s matching rally shirts.
For Sister Helen Kearney, the congregation’s president, it’s an issue not only close to their hearts, but one they pass on to their students.
“In 2015 our congregation unanimously passed a land ethic with all of our goals to sustainability. Those same efforts are being taught in our schools. So it’s really important for us to nurture these women, empower them to make changes in this world because we are at the brink of disaster,” Sister Helen said.
The students are grateful not only for the lesson, but also for the congregation’s support.
“I find it really amazing how everyone just supports us,” said Rachel Guillen, a student at The Mary Louis Academy. “The school in general, it’s just a family, and I’m really glad they came here with us.”