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Students Demand Change

Students from primary and secondary schools call on leaders to make care for the environment a major priority. (Photos courtesy Analisa Ramsahai)

Over 500 students from both primary and secondary schools gathered on the front parking area of the Archbishop’s Residence with banners and posters in hand, chanting “We demand change!” at the Franciscan Institute’s first ever Laudato Si’ Student- Solidarity Climate March: Young Voices Cry: Respect, Protect and Save the Planet Today for Tomorrow, held Friday, May 24.

The march coincided with other student protests taking place worldwide on that day calling on leaders to take urgent action in the current ecological crisis. The march brought together the initiatives of Greta Thunberg, 16-year old environmental activist, and Pope Francis himself who gave his full support for the climate protests which also coincided with the fourth anniversary of the publication of his ecological encyclical: Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.

Students representing over 20 schools, mostly Catholic, presented petitions calling for specific action to be taken, including the implementation of ecological curriculum and the phasing out of the use of plastic drink bottles in all schools.

Petitions were presented to Deputy Head of Mission of the Apostolic Nunciature, Msgr Julien Kaboré, Vicar General Fr Martin Sirju, CEO of the Catholic Education Board of Management Sharon Mangroo, representative of the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office Patricia Goddard, Spiritual Director of Youth Deacon Mikkel Trestrail and EMA representative Alisa Gomez.

The presentations of the petitions were preceded by a blessing by Msgr Kaboré and welcome by Sr Cecile St Remy SSM. Msgr Kaboré was also presented with a gift of a sugar-apple tree to be planted on the grounds of the Nunciature’s Office as a sign of the commitment of the Church in this region to the call by Pope Francis to care for our common home together.

Immediately following the ceremony, students took to the streets with signs in hand and loud chanting. The march culminated at Jackson Square, St Clair. – The Franciscan Institute