Pope Francis:
Impacting Local to National Audiences

Written by Plant With Purpose on September 29, 2015 in General, News & Events

By Kirstie Hibbard and Melissa Coy

This past week Pope Francis fulfilled his long awaited visit to the United States appearing in Washington D.C., New York, and Philadelphia. With a schedule full of celebrations, meetings, and addresses, the Holy Father made use of his brief time providing a presence of wisdom and communicating a sense of hope.

In his meetings with President Obama and Congress, Pope Francis highlighted issues of poverty and climate change.

He offered that our response to the world’s conflicts and issues must be one of “hope and healing, of peace and justice.” The Pope urged Americans to be mindful of people around us who are “trapped in a cycle of poverty,” that they especially need to be offered hope. He added poverty and hunger must be attacked at the roots of their causes.




Plant With Purpose staff member Kirstie Hibbard was lucky to take part in welcoming the Holy Father to the city of Philadelphia for the Festival of the Families. During his candid address, the Pope highlighted the utmost virtue: love. In response to a young boy’s inquiry about what God did before creating the world, he said, “Well, he loved.” Pope Francis reiterated that God made all that is good and beautiful in the world and he bestowed it on the family. For this reason, families are “factories of hope” addressing the world’s issues.

The night’s festivities drew over a million people with performances from Aretha Franklin, Andrea Bocelli, The Fray, Jim Gaffigan, Matt Maher, Juanes and many others. All in attendance were heartened by the Pope’s words and enthused by the celebration. Kirstie returned to the office and to this community with renewed momentum as we work to restore God’s creation and his people.

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Last Thursday, San Diego’s North County community gathered to hear a panel of local religious leaders’ input on Pope Francis’ address to the joint session of Congress. Plant With Purpose’s Melissa Coy was in attendance. Although Pope Francis covered a myriad of topics, the local community’s primary concern was his opinion on climate change and the environment.

The panelists included: Brother Mark Schroeder, a Franciscan Friar, Pastor Tom Theriault of Solana Beach Presbyterian Church, Rabbi Scott Meltzer from Ohr Shalom Synagogue moderated by Dr. Tom English, the Creation Care Educator for Presbyterian Church USA. Each panelist emphasized society’s call to care for creation.

Rabbi Scott Meltzer examined Genesis 2:15: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” He explained that we were put on earth to care for it, to tend, and to till it.

Brother Mark Schroeder focused on why the Pope chose to be called “Pope Francis.” The reason being that St. Francis was known for caring for the poor and creation.

Pastor Tom Theriault, prior to the evening, read the entirety of Pope Francis’ encyclical on poverty and climate change. He shared observations that all of creation comes from a common source and that, “The good is not good unless it is common.”

After the panelists commentated, the floor was open for questions and answers. A feeling of mutual consensus was present from persons of all faith backgrounds—we need to take an active role in caring for the environment. With a problem as daunting as climate change, the main question from the audience was “how can I make a difference?”

If you were inspired by Pope Francis’ visit and are curious about next steps to make a difference, check out some of the following resources.

– Creation Care at Solana Presbyterian Church

– North County Climate Change Alliance

– Eco Stewards

– San Diego

– Organizing for Action


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