California Catholics Aren’t Just Praying for Rain
California water supplies have dropped to historic lows. The first Sierra Nevada snow survey of the year found the water content in the statewide snowpack to be just 20 percent of average for this time of year. And this is the third straight year with lower than normal rainfall.
Droughts don’t just leave us thirsty. Farms wither, fish struggle, and green turns to brown. Potential wildfires threaten our national parks, our homes, and the safety of the people who must fight the fires. The lack of snow impacts ski resorts and mountain towns. If water shortages continue, Californians could face even greater economic, health, safety, and quality of life challenges.
To address these threats, the California Catholic Conference of Bishops asked people of all faiths to join in prayers for rain last Tuesday.
“As we work toward the common good of the state in this situation, we are reminded of our dependence on the Creator. Our relationship with Him calls us to be good stewards of the creation He has entrusted to us. As stewards of creation we can turn to the Divine Master asking that He see our plight and give ear to our plea for rain,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento and president of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops.
Many Catholics have heeded the call. In downtown Fresno – a region known as a hub for agricultural production in the state – St. John’s Cathedral implemented prayers for rain into its Sunday service.
“We have a history of farmers in our family, my grandparents work the fields and so I know the importance of needing the rain in our Valley,” said Laura Zarate, a parishioner at St. John’s.
Fresno Catholics aren’t just praying for rain though. Teresa Dominguez, Chancellor at Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, said that the Diocese is in the process of setting up a citizens committee for the environment. Right now any kind of water conservation or environmental information is provided on a case by case basis. The citizens committee would provide more general education on all environmental issues.
Pope Francis has encouraged Catholics to be more environmental. In response green programs have popped up in dioceses and parishes across the world. For example, the Diocese of San Jose launched an environmental group in 2009. The mission of the Green Catholic Initiative of Santa Clara County is to “encourage local Catholics to conserve water and energy, as well as become more educated about conservation efforts and environmentally friendly practices for the home and workplace.”
Access to water has been in the news a lot this week. More than 300,000 West Virginians had their drinking water abruptly cut off when 7,500 gallons of harmful chemicals from coal processing leaked into the river – their primary water source. Residents in the northern United States are dealing with frozen pipes caused by the polar vortex.
Prayer is always good, but should come second to action. “For as the body with the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26).
To learn about ways you can conserve water click here.
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