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Franciscan Earth Corps looks to rebuild the church and the world

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Franciscan Earth Corps chapters have been cropping up around the nation this past year. They are part of a campaign by the Franciscan Action Network, a group that aims to transform the world in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.

Pope Francis named himself after St. Francis, the saint who most inspired him. Inspired by the Pope and St. Francis, young adults have taken to emulate the bonds with nature demonstrated by these men. The program encourages young adults, aged 18 to 35, to get involved with social and environmental activities, focusing on the Franciscan teachings that stress the interconnectedness of all creation.

Rhett Engelking, director of the corps in the Washington, D.C.-based Franciscan network says, “Without religion and spirituality, all you’re doing is reordering everything on the outside and not affecting anyone on the inside.”

The Franciscan Earth Corps directs participants towards prayer, service and creation stewardship. The very philosophy of Saint Francis who said: “We are all creatures of one family.”

The projects the groups work on emphasize the care of the Earth and the Franciscan ideals of simplicity and sustainability. The corps looks to rebuild the brokenness of the church and the world.

Kelly Moltzen belongs to the Bronx chapter and she is concerned about the food system’s effect on the environment. She says, “Eating more fruits and vegetables that are naturally made will make us healthier and the environment healthier.”

Their chapter recently built a greenhouse and screened the documentary “A Place at the Table,” a film which shines the light on hunger. The group is considering creating a church garden or food-share program to supply fresh produce.

“I’d like to get more of the churches involved in getting healthy food,” she said. “That’s the repair the house concept,” said Moltzen.

Sister Caryn Crook, a Franciscan who is trained as a biologist and works with the Syracuse chapter, said “We learn so much about our Creator by being in creation and through studying an ecosystem. Everything works together to create one mutuality, cooperation, sacrifice. We can emulate this relationship.”

Franciscan spirituality stresses the sacred web of life and to live in a correct relationship with creation. Rather than thinking about yourself and your own needs, the Franciscan focus is outwards to your relationship with the world.

Pope John Paul II named St. Francis as patron saint of ecology. In St. Francis’ poem, “Canticle of the Sun,” you can understand why.

For more information contact the local chapter located at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, MD. A training and retreat weekend for the Franciscan Earth Corps will be held on September 20th in Washington DC. Click here for more info.

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