The "Laudato Si – Caring for Our Common Home" Art Exhibition was held at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi (SFA), Cheras on Sunday 13th October from from 8am to 3pm. The Art Exhibition is part of the Lenten Campaign 3-year (2018-2020) theme “Caring for Our Common Home" organised by the Archdiocesan Office for Human Development (AOHD) KL.
In the brief introduction, Fr Bernard Hyacinth SJ, Director of the Archdiocesan Office for Human Development, explained that the purpose of the Exhibition is to create and increase awareness of what we are doing to mother earth our common home, and what we can do to stop the cycle of destruction by our actions as individuals, family, community, church and country to work together to build the preferred world as gifted to us by God.
A variety of artworks were presented—a total of 201—from young children, teenagers, youth and adults. In all its splendour of colour, simplicity, creativity and combined activity, they all showed the kind of world we live in currently, the kind of world we dream to live in and how to care for our common home. The biggest group of participants who submitted the artworks was from the Church of the Good Shepherd, Setapak, Kuala Lumpur. The parish organized an ‘art expression camp session’ for the Sunday School students in order to share this activity.
Many SFA parishioners and some visitors from other parishes visited the exhibition after the various regular masses in 4 languages. At the 9.30 am English Mass presided by Fr Bernard, he shared his reflection on the Grateful Samaritan man with leprosy. “If gratitude is an expression of our faith in God, then we are enabled to see all of God’s creation—women, children, men, animal, plants, insects—as gifts given to us. We are intimately connected to all of creation in a splendid universal communion. Therefore, we will do everything we can to care and protect all of God’s creation. We will use our talents, skills, creativity in resolving the problems related to the destruction of our world, the only home we have. We will not make excuses anymore! We will not be passive anymore! We will change our habits so that we stop destroying God’s gift of creation.”
The event was held together with BEC coffee morning at the parish hall. This made it quite conducive for people to gather around meals, and spend time with each other while viewing the artworks. It was a good time to engage people in discussions, commenting on the state of our planet, our common home and appreciation of the artwork. Some acknowledged the issue of food and water wastage, that we need to do more to stop the use of plastics, stop throwing rubbish everywhere (especially under the sign “Jangan Buang Sampah”!), change shopping habits, to be less consumeristic, to regularly act or live out the 4Rs (Recycle, Reuse, Replace and Reduce) and other practices. There were enthusiastic requests for the exhibition to be held in other parishes too.
Teachers accompanied their catechism class students to the Exhibition too. They viewed the artworks excitedly as some had participated or had friends who participated in the art expression.
Fr Bernard expressed his deepest thanks to all the participants who contributed their artworks from at least 6 parishes. “You gave your time, talent, skills and most of all your care and concern for God’s creation through artwork. Your artwork is a reflection of God’s splendid artwork of creation which we are all called to care for, protect and serve.”
To encourage everyone to continue in this journey, certificates were given to all the participants—individuals and groups. An eco-friendly gift of a hand towel made from recycled plastic bottles was specially given to 30 chosen winners!
Together with the Art Exhibition, there were 3 booths for people to interact. Participants especially children, were huddled at the Art Demo booth of Anusha Charles—one of the 3 judges of the artworks. It was definitely a popular desk filled with paint trays, brushes, crayons, pastels and art papers. Ms Christine Das was also present mingling with the participants and guests. We are grateful to the 3 judges – Christine Das, Anusha Charles & Marisha Peter Santhiago—who spent quality time reviewing the art entries and selecting the winners.
The next booth featured Kloth Cares, an enterprise collecting fabric, clothes and textiles for recycling so that nothing is wasted. They also produce hand towels from recycled plastics (6 medium-sized plastic bottles make one hand towel). It was an opportunity to get to know how we can dispose fabric in a sustainable way.
At the third booth, people were shown a variety of useful eco-friendly food containers—for coffee morning or ‘tapau’ – which are biodegradable or compostable. These are good alternatives to plastics and styrofoam. This venture furthers the good cause of protecting our common home. It will certainly be helpful for parishes to use such products, as we always gather around food and feasting while celebrating our faith and life together. These eco products can help us in our long journey to reduce waste, recycle and at once take steps to minimise ecological damage.
It is significant that the event is held in the Church of St Francis of Assisi. He is the patron of saint of animals and ecology. He taught and lived that all of creation is God’s loving gift and therefore, “Be Praised Most High Almighty God…” All of creation is his sister and brother to be cared for, protected and served with love.
Moreover, the Church of St Francis of Assisi is probably the first parish in the Archdiocese of KL to have a system to harvest rain water! This is a concrete expression of gratitude and appreciation for rain, and a practical way of using water for the good of all without wasting it.
The Lenten Campaign theme of Caring for Our Common Home is spread over 3 years with the following themes: “Stewards of Ecological Change” (2018) followed by “Encounter & Serve as Stewards” (2019) and “Stewards Protecting Creation” (2020). It is hoped that by giving focus to the 3 years’ themes, a deepening sense of awareness of our responsibility to care for and protect our Common Home is generated every day of our lives.
Pope Francis challenges us in his letter Laudato Si – “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” (LS 160). Like the Grateful Samaritan, we can truly sing praises of thanksgiving to God by serving as stewards, guardians or protectors of all of God’s creation that is given to us as gift. Laudato Si!
AOHD (Archdiocesan Office for Human Development) Kuala Lumpur