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Celebrating Catholic Schools’ Contributions to a Greener Future

16 October 2023 | Posted in Sustainability

Celebrating Catholic Schools’ Contributions to a Greener Future

Amanda Banister

By Amanda Banister

System Learning and Teaching Adviser - Early Years

Townsville Catholic Education

Each year, schools are invited to apply for the TCE Sustainability Through Catholic Social Teaching Grant. It recognises the way in which the school responds to Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ on caring for our common home through sustainable practices.

Laudato Si’ is an encyclical of Pope Francis published in May 2015. It focuses on the natural environment and all people, as well as broader questions of the relationship between God, humans and the Earth. The encyclical’s subtitle “Care for our Common Home” reinforces these key themes. 

For 2023 Townsville Catholic Education will offer 10 x $4000 grants to our schools in the Townsville diocese. 

Congratulations to the following schools who received a 2022 Sustainability Through Catholic Social Justice Teaching Grant: 

  • Ryan Catholic College, Kirwan
  • Southern Cross Catholic College, Annandale
  • St Benedict’s Catholic School, Shaw
  • St Francis Catholic School, Ayr
  • St Joseph’s Catholic School, Mundingburra
  • St Joseph’s Catholic School, The Strand
  • Columba Catholic College, Charters Towers with this school also receiving the special Executive Director’s Laudato Si’ Award. 

Below are some of the exciting initiatives our schools have undertaken. 

St Francis Catholic School, Ayr

St Francis Catholic School in Ayr has a student-led environmental group called The Planet Protectors. This group consists of representatives from each class in Years 3-6 who meet every three weeks to discuss environmental concerns and plan for future actions. They have received additional funds to support their work. 

At the beginning of the year, the group established expectations, brainstormed actions for the year, and created a work plan. The Planet Protectors organise environmental activities for the school's annual Samaritan Day celebration and are responsible for planning and leading these activities. Members of the group are encouraged to be ambassadors for a cleaner environment at the school, and have engaged in various projects such as writing letters to local businesses for donations for their composting project and installing vegetable gardens for the tuckshop. 

The group also successfully applied for a Woolworths Landcare Grant to support their garden project and have already started using the produce from the gardens in the tuckshop and for donations to replant. 

Ryan Catholic College, Kirwan

The students on the Junior Campus are passionate about making a positive impact and have taken on various initiatives to improve the environment, such as recycling food scraps, growing plants, and keeping the grounds clean. The Senior Campus EcoRangers have also taken up the challenge to address specific issues related to the environment and have successfully implemented various projects, such as collecting food waste, reducing litter, and adopting gardens.

The College has received a Caritas: Laudato Si’ Level Two accreditation and the students are also working towards achieving Level 3 Laudato Si' accreditation, reflecting their commitment to caring for the environment.

St Joseph’s Catholic School, Mundingburra

The school chose to use their grant money for two wicking garden beds. The beds are designed to save water and only need to be filled every two weeks. The school plans to share the produce it grows with members of the parish and a local multicultural support group, as well as setting up a table during drop-off and pick-up times for families to take produce home. The garden will serve as an outdoor learning space for various subjects and will include worm farms, vegetables, herbs, fruit, bee hotels, and a large tree. The school’s Reef Guardians group, which focuses on environmental issues, meets weekly and has a particular focus on recycling and reducing plastic waste. The garden is open on Wednesdays during lunchtime for students to learn and tend to it.

It is evident that our Catholic schools are highly committed to promoting sustainable practices and caring for our environment, in line with the teachings of Laudato Si’. Through initiatives like The Planet Protectors, EcoRangers, and the wicking garden beds, students are not only learning about environmental issues, but actively taking steps to make a positive impact in their communities. These grants highlight the dedication and impact of our Catholic schools in creating a greener future for all. As we continue to face environmental challenges, our schools will remain at the forefront, educating and inspiring the next generation to be responsible stewards of our planet. 

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