During the first 100 hours of the new presidential administration, people of diverse faiths gathered at Sacred Heart Chapel, on the grounds of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood, to pray for the U.S. government to accelerate its response to climate change. The January 22 vigil was linked with over 50 similar vigils and dozens of other actions nationwide under the banner of the People’s Climate Movement, a coalition of environmental, labor, environmental and racial justice, faith, student and other organizations. Joining the Sisters in carrying out the vigil were representatives of MDQ Academy (an Islamic school in Bay Shore) and their families, St. Joseph College, CSJ associates, co-ministers and neighbors.

“We stand at the threshold of a new era for our planet and in the climate movement; a time that will require courage, resilience and faith,” said Sister Joan Gallagher, CSJ, a member of the vigil planning committee. “At the start of this new era we need to join together as one, grounded in our faith traditions that help us process our grief, our anger, our fear, and equip us with the hope and strength that will sustain us as we bear witness to the needs of the world and its people. In the first 100 hours of our country’s new administration it is important for us to be united with others and join in prayer and action for our planet, for good jobs in a clean energy economy and for the protection of vulnerable communities.”

Those gathered prayed to reconcile any harm done to one another, to living creatures and to the earth. Prayers were offered for our politicians and leaders so they may act in the best interests of all nations today, and all peoples in the future. All in attendance then recommitted to bring peace to those who suffer harm, to bring love to those who suffer hate and to bring justice to those who suffer need.

“I was in awe of the chorus of diverse voices who called upon God, the source and sustainer of all life, to empower all of us to work as one to sustain our planet, protect vulnerable communities and speak out for justice for all,” said Sister Helen Kearney, CSJ, congregational president.

The vigils were coordinated nationally by GreenFaith, Interfaith Power and Light, the Franciscan Action Network, and other religious-environmental networks. Local faith partners will now turn their sights and work to participate in an April 29, 2017 People’s Climate Movement mobilization which will take place in Washington DC and around the country. “What’s happening with the Earth’s climate is not okay,” said SistervJoan. “We want to make sure that our leaders know that we want and expect them to act on behalf of all life.”