Southern Dioceses Environment Network

2023 Monday Lunchtime Zoom Meetings

13 February 12.45-2.00pm
Laudato Si’ in 2023
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13 March 12.45-2.00pm
The Things That Bring You Joy
Reflections for Lent

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15 May 12.45-2.00pm
12 June 12.45-2.00pm

10 July 12.45-2.00pm
11 September 12.45-2.00pm

9 October 12.45-2.00pm
13 November 12.45-2.00pm

11 December 12.45-2.00pm

This network for all Catholics and our friends who care about creation meets monthly online on the second Monday of the month and also organises other events online and in-person. Some events take place jointly with the Northern Dioceses Environment Group, as we all work together to animate the Catholic community in the long-term task of stabilising our climate and protecting our common home.

We are inspired by the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, especially as set out by Pope Francis in the encyclical Laudato Si’, and the teachings on caring for the earth and one another found in Scripture.

Participants include CAFOD and Diocesan staff and volunteers, Laudato Si’ Animators, clergy, parishioners, religious and activists. All are welcome.

For the Zoom link, more details, or to be added to the mailing list please email
Colette Joyce, Westminster Justice and Peace Co-ordinator,
or call her on 07593 434 905

The SDEN Planning Group are:
Colette Joyce (Westminster), David Doig (CAFOD), David Ko (Westminster),
John Paul de Quay (Arundel & Brighton), Rebekah O’Keeffe (Southwark),
Richard Busellato (Westminster) and Siân Thomas (Brentwood)

The Southern Dioceses are:
Arundel & Brighton, Brentwood, Clifton, East Anglia, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southwark and Westminster

Previous Meetings

9th January 2023 – Looking Ahead to 2023. Joint Meeting with Northern Dioceses

12th December 2022 – Feedback on COP27, Advent and Planning for 2023

Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy and Communications at CAFOD, gives feedback from COP27 which he attended as a delegate of the Holy See

Presentation by Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy and Communications, CAFOD

Neil was a delegate for the Holy See (the Vatican) to COP26 and COP27. He told us that what was different about COP27 was that the Holy See had acceded to the Paris Agreement (2015) and so are now a party to the COP for the first time (as a State). This happened toward the end of October 2022 and it is worth noting that signing up comes with difficulties and challenges. It requires commitment. Preparation was minimal in terms of time, so the Vatican was not able to prepare this time in the way they probably will in future.

COPs have a direct impact influence on countries’ economies and policies, unlike e.g. The Sustainability Goals, which are voluntary. There are accountability and transparency mechanisms which is vital for the principles behind the COP and the impact it will have moving forward. What happens at COP matters because it has to be taken back to countries domestically.

The fault lines are clear between the countries that caused the climate crisis through historic emissions (UK, US, France, Germany etc.) and those that didn’t (Saudi Arabia, China, Brazil, India etc.) The common, yet differentiated, responsibilities between the two groups are held by some as a matter of principle and have political consequences.

At a COP there are actual negotiations and political signals (found primarily in the cover text).


  • The cover text included food, rivers, nature-based solutions and right to a healthy environment for the first time.
  • Innovative financing options were part of the discussions and included in the cover text.
  • Negotiating streams dealt with:
  • Averting the climate crisis (mitigation) 
  • Minimising the harm from climate change (adaptation) 
  • Addressing the harm already done (loss and damage) 
  • A fund for loss and damage (compensation) has been agreed in principle and a transition group has been set up to work out the detail of how this is to be done.
  • Excellent expert report presented on reaching net zero and calling out greenwashing.
  • Sharm El-Sheikh Programme of Work established to take forward issues on food.

COP27 could have been worse – the first pavilion was a HUGE Saudi Arabian pavilion. Egypt was the president of COP27 and this first pavilion told a story of the influence the Saudi Arabians had on them.


Best expressed by Alok Sharma (UK COP26 President) in his closing remarks at COP27:

“Emissions peaking before 2025, as the science tells us is necessary.

Not in this text.

Clear follow-through on the phase down of coal.

Not in this text.

A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels.

Not in this text.

And the energy text, weakened, in the final minutes.

Friends, I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5 degrees was weak.

Unfortunately, it remains on life support.”

Alok Sharma, COP27, Closing Remarks
  • The Climate crisis continues to hit people hard and fast.
  • The influence of fossil fuels companies took over.
  • No strengthening of 1.5 targets or phasing out fossil fuels, even though UK government strong stance on these negotiations. 
  • Climate finance – targets still not met from 2009 – big disappointment.
  • From CAFOD and Holy See point of view – disappointment with the narrow, productionist, approach to food systems. Nature/people outlook didn’t get a look in.

CAFOD, Holy See, and the Future 

The Holy See made a number of interventions.

  • Pressed for a comprehensive view of food systems, as found in Laudato Si’.
  • Asked for separate financial mechanism for loss and damage. Taken notice of by other states. Thanked by the small island states for doing it.
  • Positive as a Catholic family for our voice to be heard.
  • In the build-up CAFOD had done work with partners. African Climate Dialogues. Brought partner voices into the COP.
  • Hope to be stronger and better prepared for the next COP. Early preparation is important.
  • It is important for us to think about pushing the UK Government.
  • We need to push on loss and damage, the food system as a national discussion (also the next CAFOD campaign.)

Q & A:  

  • What is the best way to push the UK government? Contacting MPs and being consistent is strong and don’t be afraid to send evidence. The more who speak the better – especially if they are Conservative. 
  • How does the work of the Holy See filter down through the Diocese level? If only – Being a part of the Holy See is seen as a government. A report will be done for the Bishops Conference of England and Wales by Neil Thorns and a suggestion has been made that the Holy See themselves do this but it is not simple. 
  • Was there a presence of other faiths? There are various groups recognised such as Indigenous groups, there is a strong representation of faith groups which is great to see. 
  • How influential are the side groups? Not one answer to this but if you see COP in the two ways – political/negotiating but then also the conversation that happens outside such as deals and agreements making traction.  
  • Has there been writing following COP27? Formal writing is not shared from my knowledge. Church globally sees this as important enough to take action – Bishops/Cardinals can be asked how we are translating the Paris agreement into our local realities. A bottom-up approach. 

Question: What is your response to Neil’s presentation? Where do you think we are now and what do you think will be important in 2023? 

Next Southern Dioceses Environment Network Meetings

Monday, 9 January  2023, 12.45-2.00pm  – Joint meeting

To start the year, the Northern Dioceses Environment Group and Southern Dioceses Environment Network will be meeting together to reflect on the challenges that lie ahead in 2023.

The meeting will hear from the Diocese of Salford that has been carrying out extensive surveys of all parish and diocesan buildings to develop a decarbonisation pathway and to help prioritise decarbonisation projects.

We will also get an update on the Guardians of Creation initiative with a focus on the engaging parishioners in the ‘ecological conversion’ we all need to make if we are to respond with urgency to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

Monday          13 Feb             12.45-2.00pm            
Monday          13 March        12.45-2.00pm            

Monday          15 May            12.45-2.00pm         
Monday          12 June           12.45-2.00pm

Monday          10 July            12.45-2.00pm            
Monday          11 Sept           12.45-2.00pm

Monday          9 Oct               12.45-2.00pm
Monday          13 Nov            12.45-2.00p
Monday          11 Dec             12.45-2.00pm


Journey to 2030 Updates:

‘Let Us Dream’ Activity Workshops

Advent resources to try and let us know your thoughts

New Journey to 2030 School Page

From the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW):

Bishops Conference Environment Resolutions – Autumn 2022

Bishop John’s Podcast on ‘Call of Creation’

Revised document: ‘Call of Creation’ (October 2022)

Advent with Jesuit Missions

17-24 December: ‘See Beyond the Headlines’ – Sign up or login to help create a more just world this Christmas.


14th November 2022 – Prayer and Reflection for COP27

Rebekah O’Keeffe from the Diocese of Southwark, led us in a time of prayer and reflection for our November meeting, which took place during the second week of the UN Climate Conference, COP27.

We entered a time of first lamentation and then of celebration for creation, taking plenty of time of quiet to reflect and deepen our intentions.

We prayed for all those who were participating in Egypt and for ourselves as we renewed our commitment to hope and action going forward into another year.

10th October 2022 – Preparation for COP27

Paul Chitnis, Director, Jesuit Missions

  • Jesuit Missions is the Mission and Development Office of the Jesuits in Britain.
  • Based in Wimbledon.
  • Work in countries in Southern Africa, parts of India and Guyana.
  • Paul was previously Director of SCIAF, the development agency in Scotland, sister agency to CAFOD.
  • He was present at COP26, along with his colleague Colm Fahey.
  • He is not attending this year.
  • COP27 (6-18 November 2022) is taking place on the African continent for the first time.
  • One of the main drivers of hunger in Africa is climate change.
  • Seeing the impact of climate change everywhere, floods in Pakistan, droughts in Africa, fires in Australia.
  • The political context this year is significant. Attention of the world has been diverted by the war in Ukraine. The bandwidth of our political leaders for climate change has been reduced.
  • On the agenda for COP27 – as usual ‘adaptation’ and ‘mitigation’ measures.
  • There will also be an emphasis this year on’ loss and damage’ – compensation for losses due to climate change for which adaption is not possible.
  • World leaders were in attendance at COP26 which had an impact on the country negotiators and the civic society activists present. There are likely to be fewer world leaders present this time.
  • Finance will be key. The conference will succeed or fail depending on funding. ‘Follow the money’ – that is where the answer will be.
  • Has to work quite hard personally to remain optimistic after many years working for climate change. Only have to watch ‘Frozen Planet’ on a Sunday night to see the impacts. Faith communities have a role to play because they offer hope and he is hopeful.
  • Final question: What happens if we do not meet these targets from the Paris Agreement?

Bishop John Arnold, Bishop of Salford

  • Diocese of Salford Website
  • Evidence is overwhelming in terms of the climate damage that is happening.
  • Great damage being reported today from storms in Venezuela.
  • In September a climate disaster seemed to be reported every day.
  • Good news from some governments speaking up in the last few months Australia, New Zealand, US (although not consistently), Denmark, Singapore.
  • Encouraging because governments have to take the lead, industry has a part to play, and each of us individually must do our part.
  • Pope Francis is consistently encouraging.
  • Our government has not been helpful. During process of whittling down candidates for conservative party leader from 11 to 2 there was one mention of the environment by one candidate. Obsession with growth for the economy is misplaced. Helps neither the poor nor the environment. Hopefully restarting fracking will not happen. Local resistance in Lancashire.
  • First activity in Glasgow last year was a multi-faith prayer service in George Square. Each of 9 major faiths, including Pagans, led a prayer and he couldn’t disagree with any of it. All major faiths have a concern for the world in which we live.
  • 85% of the world population adhere to one of those faiths. Presents a real opportunity for faith leaders to conjure more enthusiasm.
  • Young people are so much more enthusiastic and learned. Schools love visiting the Laudato Si’ Centre in Salford. Over 100,000 turned up for the young people’s rally in Glasgow.
  • Deforestation Agreement was good but even as Brazil was signing the promise it was increasing deforestation of the Amazon by 15%.
  • Loss and Damage – $100 million sounds a lot but it is not. It is vital life-saving money. Up to 1 billion people might migrate by 2050 because of the loss of agricultural land and heading to the places that are able to produce food. Very short-sighted not to care for people already affected by climate change.
  • Disappointed that the Prime Minister has told King Charles not to go to COP-27. His long-standing commitment and experience would be helpful.
  • Haven’t seen much evidence that best intentions have been implemented. IPCC say at the moment we are heading for 3.2 degrees increase.
  • Good things – increasing understanding of the environment. More and more groups are aligning. Pope Francis film ‘The Letter’ gives a very clear appeal and should be recommended far and wide.
  • ‘We are jogging along but we need to be sprinting.’

Small Group Discussions…

Question:Sam Baker’s Walk2COP27 has started. It is a journey to gather people for a common cause. What would you talk about with a stranger to bring people together?”

The Letter: Laudato Si’ Film Released 4th October 2022

We watched the trailer together on YouTube:

The full movie can be watched for free online:

Resources: Shared by John Paul de Quay

‘Call of Creation’ (October 2022 Update) from the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales:

World Wildlife Fund Expectations for COP27:

‘The Letter’ Movie:

Bishop John Arnold calls for rethink on reversing fracking ban:

Organise Order ‘Let Us Dream’ activity packs from Journey to 2030 to use with your church group / parish.

12th September 2022 – Loss and Damage and COP27

Talk given by Shanon Shah, Director of Faith for the Climate. The presentation focused on the upcoming Loss and Damage Action Day, 22 September 2022

We were delighted to welcome Shanon Shah, the Director of Faith for the Climate, as our guest speaker for the first meeting this term of the Southern Dioceses Environment Network.

Faith for the Climate is a network that aims to equip, inspire, and encourage faith inspired action on issues of climate change across the UK. All faiths and spiritualities are welcome.

Shanon Shah is a Malaysian Muslim who came to the UK in 2010. He joined the team at Faith for the Climate in 2020.

The organisation aims to unite those of faith together in the environmental justice space and to encourage learning from the different faith traditions. It was a way to target the UK government and show solidarity with those who suffer the worse impact of climate change despite doing the least to contribute.

The group meet regularly online with two priorities in the lead up to COP-26: new and additional money for loss and damage, ending fossil fuel subsidies. The UK government has made some progress with the second focus, therefore, most energy was focused on loss and damage.

Loss and Damage is part of the architecture of the Paris Agreement which includes three main pillars of climate action; mitigation of climate emissions, adaption to live with the impact of climate change, loss and damage. Loss and damage is when the impact of climate change is so severe that adaption/mitigation is not possible e.g. as a result of sea level rises, extreme weather events.

The UK government has historically blocked negotiations on loss and damage.

At COP-19, in 2013, the Warsaw international mechanism for Loss and damage was established in response to the typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. At COP-25 in Madrid, the Santiago network on loss and damage was established to implement the Warsaw mechanism. It called for richer countries to offer compensation. At COP-26, there was a push for clarity on how the Santiago network would be implemented.

The Glasgow Dialogue on Loss and Damage was established post COP-26. Many questions on how to address the issue are undecided, but it is climbing the agenda with the first awareness day last year. This is largely due to the efforts of faith communities.

The UK has faced financial difficulty this year due to the war in Ukraine, cost of living crisis etc. which has made it more difficult to talk about loss and damage. Despite our own issues we must not forget countries such as Pakistan which is now 1/3 under water with the displacement of 50 million people and 10 billion US dollars’ worth of damage. These poorer countries are suffering the worst effects of climate change despite contributing the least. The impacts of extreme weather events are far greater for them and they are still struggling with debt.

It seems only fair that the big polluters have the most responsibility to pay compensation for loss and damage. It is a moral issue that lies at the centre of many faiths; we are all interconnected.

The next Loss and Damage Awareness Day will be on the 22nd September; including a walk of witness to Parliament Square via the Shell headquarters. Gathering at St. John’s Church, Waterloo, 10.30am. It will join those doing an interfaith fast for loss and damage.

22 September – Loss and Damage Awareness Day
10.30am Meet at St John’s Waterloo
11.30am Walk to the Shell headquarters for a vigil
12.00pm Walk to Parliament Square
Loss and Damage Day of Action London

We then broke into small groups to consider the question: “In what ways does the topic of Loss and Damage resonate with this year’s theme for the Season of Creation – Listen to the Voice of Creation?”


Faith for the Climate
Loss and Damage Day of Action London
Key Climate Dates in 2022

The Journey to 2030 website has been revamped with several sections for new resources. Check it out at: new homepage let us dream activity* The new getting started and resources page – The ‘building a caring community’ activity poster page

*You can order packs of the ‘Let Us Dream’ activity to use with your church group / parish.

3rd September 2022 – Mass for the Season of Creation

All photos by Raluca Costache

Members of the Southern Dioceses Environment Network gathered for their first-ever Mass for the start of the Season of Creation on Saturday 3rd September, 4pm, at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Farm Street, Mayfair on Saturday. The celebrant was Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, Parish Priest and Chair of the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission.

The Mass was followed by refreshments in the Arrupe Hall, with a chance to view displays and resources on the care of creation.

Homily given by Fr Dominic Robinson SJ

11th July 2022 – Preparation for the Season of Creation and COP27

Speaker: Chris Driscoll, Community Participation Co-ordinator CAFOD Brentwood, on CAFOD’s Fix the Food System Campaign, Summer 2022

*Chris has kindly shared his slides with us as an attachment with these notes.

1. Introduction

Climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and the rising prices of food and agricultural products such as fertilisers as a result of the Ukraine crisis, have together revealed the fragility of our current global food system.

At a time of crisis these impacts are mostly felt in low-income countries, but they also have serious repercussions at home, where earlier this year it was reported that 9% of the UK population didn’t have enough affordable and nutritious food in spite of living in the fifth-largest economy in the world.

2. Slide 2

Paradox – there’s enough food in the world to feed everyone, but millions still go hungry, including those who grow the food. Profits come before people, and large scale commercial agriculture dominated by a few big businesses is accelerating the climate crisis.

Clearly, our current global food system is not working for both people and planet. But together we can play our part in re thinking it, challenging its imbalance of power and supporting alternative ways of producing food where communities have access to land, can

choose what they grow and can make a dignified living by producing food in harmony with nature.

3. Video

Station 1

Community land is taken away. Between 2006 and 2016, almost 500 such ‘land grabs’ took place in 78 countries. Nearly half of these had no consultation at all with local communities before the land was taken by a big business. Because big businesses are very powerful, the fight of local communities to retain their ancestral land is highly unfair.

Communities cannot decide what crops to grow; a few big businesses, powerful interests and the market do. This is based on what will make the most profit. For instance, as much as

80% of all the soya grown across the world is fed to animals that are being reared to provide meat. The UK imported about 3.5 million tonnes of soya beans in 2019 and over half of that ended up in chicken feed.

Communities have to buy seeds. Rather than being able to choose their own seeds to plant each year, due to the way the system operates many farmers have little choice but to buy seeds produced by a few big businesses. Just four of these businesses control over 60% of the global seed market.

Communities are trapped into using chemicals. Only four big businesses control 75% of the pesticide market, promoting the overuse of these chemicals, which takes away not only significant amount of small farmers’ income but also their health: over a million people per year are killed or have serious health problems from being exposed to these chemicals.

Station 4

Alternative visions – stories from Bangladesh and Zimbabwe

Station 6

At COP26, countries signed up to ambitious commitments on food and agriculture, as part of the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use, which was signed by 141 countries and covers over 90% of the world’s forests. This was supported through other associated financial and policy commitments, producing an ambitious package of development, environmental, climate, trade and finance commitments. These commitments go wider than just food and agriculture, covering forest and ecosystem protection, support for indigenous peoples and local communities, among other issues.

  1. The UK government’s International Climate Finance prioritises agroecology to tackle poverty and support communities to adapt to climate change
  2. No more UK aid flows to agricultural programmes that harm the environment or fail to show their impact on tackling poverty
  3. Countries report concrete progress at COP27 on their commitments under the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use, including redesigning agricultural programmes and subsidies, and increasing land tenure for indigenous peoples and local communities.
  4. New initiatives to support agroecology and repurpose harmful agricultural subsidies are announced as part of COP27, including Agroecology Transition Partnerships.
  5. The Global Biodiversity Framework to be agreed in Kunming supports the role of agroecology in poverty reduction, climate action and biodiversity protection.

Station 7

We need a rebalancing of the power of big businesses in favour of local communities so such alternatives can flourish.


Between 2016 and 2018, an area of land almost the size of the UK was used to produce food for us, including cocoa, palm oil and beef. In the UK, the amount of meat eaten per person now is around 10kg higher than the annual average in the early 90s.As we heard earlier, huge areas of land in the Amazon are being used to produce soya to feed animals. So the more meat we eat, the more land is needed.


Each year the UK exports thousands of tonnes of pesticides to low-income countries which are banned in the UK.19 meaning that our government considers them too harmful to human health to be used on our fields. And yet we are selling them to low-income countries to use on their fields.


In the UK we throw away 9.5 million tonnes of food per year, and three quarters of that food was fine to eat. Lots of food gets wasted in production, and is also wasted by hotels, restaurants and shops, but households are responsible for 70% of the waste. Overall, 19% of lettuce grown and 9% of strawberries ended up as waste.

At a global level the figures are staggering too. The world produces enough food to wipe out hunger but one-third of it goes to waste. That’s 1.3 billion tonnes of food every year being thrown away. The land it takes to provide just the food that we throw away is bigger than the size of India, and the water it takes is equivalent to 300 million Olympic swimming pools!

  • Plan your meals so you only buy the quantity of food that you will eat.
  • When possible choose organic, fairtrade and/or local produce.
  • Reduce the amount of meat that you eat.

CAFOD Follow-Up

The following documents provide more detail about the campaign:

Supporter briefing
Policy briefing
Participants leaflet

Prayers on Food and Hunger


In schools the campaign has different branding and is called Step up to the Plate. Here is more information on the campaign is primary schools and secondary schools. The secondary school video is particularly worth watching as it summarises the main aspects of the campaign in a very accessible way.


If anyone in the network would like support on running the ‘Fix the Food System’ activity in their parish, I would ask them to contact their local CAFOD representative in the first instance:

Arundel & Brighton – Jenny Finlayson
Brentwood – Chris Driscoll
East Anglia – Jane Crone
Portsmouth – Jo Lewry
Southwark – Celeste Iyinbo or Sarah Cadwallader
Westminster – Tony Sheen

Resources for the Season of Creation

The Season of Creation Celebration Guide is available online for download. It provides for prayer and worship services, lectionary notes and sermon notes.

There are also event checklists to help you plan things like ecumenical prayer services, and guidance on getting involved in advocacy. 

You can plan events and register them on the website.

Join the English Language Season of Creation Facebook group.

Use the hashtag #SeasonOfCreation

13th June 2022 – Sustainable Summers

Introduction to Sustainable Summers – Rebekah O’Keeffe

Rebekah invited us to consider the merits of holidays from home – also known as the staycation – but, to many, just ‘a holiday’! 

With the country in a cost of living crisis, people having to wait weeks for passports and airlines cancelling flights at the drop of a hat more and more of us will be looking to holiday at home this summer. Add to that, those of us choosing not to fly or drive for environmental reasons, SDEN invite suggestions for day trips in the local area or reasons to visit places a little further from home this summer…

Consider whether places, attractions or venues can be reached by public transport, the costs, facilities, accessibility, what is on offer, opening times and website. Think Trip Advisor for the environment.

Last Sunday’s reading for Trinity Sunday reminds us that the Holy Spirit is always ready to delight in us. So, too, may we take time to delight in these beautiful places!

We split into small groups by Diocese for 20 minutes to discuss and promote our favourite places. Here are the ones we chose...

Arundel & Brighton and Portsmouth (joint group)

Place: The South Downs Way

A 100-mile walk, starting in Winchester (Diocese of Portsmouth) and ending up in Eastbourne (Diocese of A & B)

There are hostels from the Youth Hostel Association for cheap accommodation. You can also camp there. There are lots of National Trust properties to see along the way.

The South Downs Way

Place: The Isle of Wight

It is also easy to get to the Isle of Wight by taking the train to Portsmouth then ferry. It is possible to circumnavigate the island by bike, road sign blue route takes you off the major roads onto smaller paths. Notably hilly! Also great for a beach holiday and has dinosaurs.


Place: All of the Diocese!

The Diocese is very blessed for walks in woods, fields, beaches, lucky to have a bit of everything, The Brentwood environment document includes a map of many places of natural beauty.

The group would like to expand what we discussed to create a guide for the Diocese, to update the Diocesan Environmental Policy with something for everyone – kids, dogs, churches to visit etc. 

Diocese of Brentwood Laudato Si’ Document


Place: Cleeve Hill

Highest point in Gloucester, set in a 1000-acre public park. Includes pubs along the way to get good things to eat and drink. Easy to reach from Cheltenham by bus to Winchcombe.

Place: Bristol

You could easily have a week’s holiday in Bristol without going out of the city’s bounds; lots of theatres, various festivals, visit the SS Great Britain, Bristol Suspension Bridge, Aquarium, Gallery. There is a good, cheap Youth Hostel.


Place: Buckfast Abbey

We would like to recommend a venue with a religious theme. Buckfast Abbey in Devon is free to visit and has beautiful gardens, shops and a café, as well as the Abbey itself and an interactive display about the Benedictine way of life. Buckfast Abbey is a model of green energy generation. It hosts the hair shirt relic of St Thomas More and hosts regular music concerts.

The Abbey is within walking distance of the South Devon steam railway and the otter and butterfly farm, so lots to do for the children. There are buses to Newton Abbot and Totnes from the Abbey, and those towns both have great railway stations with regular trains to a range of destinations.


Place: Bollington

Known as the Happy Valley. Lovely place to be based to explore nearby South Cheshire and Macclesfield. Can stay at Savio House Retreat Centre or other local accommodation.

Savio House


Place: The South Bank

The south side of the Thames is very accessible by public transport. You probably want to bring your own lunch as food options are expensive! As well as walking along the river, there is an outdoor second-hand book store, street-theatre, art displays, St George’s Cathedral, the Imperial War Museum and Peace Garden. It is a little further to Crystal Palace Park, which also has dinosaurs.

Kent has Leeds and Hever Castles.


Having just celebrated Feast of The Holy Trinity, Fr Tom O’Brien proposes a holiday trinity of ‘education, relaxation, exercise.’

Place: St Albans

The town itself is good for walking around, with many Tudor buildings of interest. Then there is the Roman town Verulamium – the ruins are free to visit if you live in St Albans. The Abbey is free to everyone and has a Tapestry showing the origins of the cathedral, plus models of how it was constructed, video shows about the Abbey and a café. There is a Learning Centre for children. If you have the energy, you can go shopping in the nearby massive shopping area. You might need 2 days to visit! 

Book Recommendation:

Britain’s Holiest Places

Nick Mayhew-Smith


Pope Frances on rest and relaxation:

“On Sunday, our participation in the Eucharist has special importance. Sunday, like the Jewish Sabbath, is meant to be a day which heals our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world. Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, the “first day” of the new creation, whose first fruits are the Lord’s risen humanity, the pledge of the final transfiguration of all created reality. It also proclaims “man’s eternal rest in God”.168 In this way, Christian spirituality incorporates the value of relaxation and festivity. We tend to demean contemplative rest as something unproductive and unnecessary, but this is to do away with the very thing which is most important about work: its meaning. We are called to include in our work a dimension of receptivity and gratuity, which is quite different from mere inactivity. Rather, it is another way of working, which forms part of our very essence. It protects human action from becoming empty activism; it also prevents that unfettered greed and sense of isolation which make us seek personal gain to the detriment of all else. The law of weekly rest forbade work on the seventh day, “so that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your maidservant, and the stranger, may be refreshed” (Ex 23:12). Rest opens our eyes to the larger picture and gives us renewed sensitivity to the rights of others. And so the day of rest, centred on the Eucharist, sheds it light on the whole week, and motivates us to greater concern for nature and the poor.”

 (Laudato Si’, 237)

Ethical Travel Advice

  • Journey to 2030 travel page – Intended for how we get to church but with many reflections on our faith and being conscious how we travel:

How to get there

  • The Man in Seat 61 is the greatest and most useful geek website in the world ever! This man loves trains to a level you never will. This means he has compiled all your journey plans for you:
  • Eco-Passenger – for working out the most economical way to get somewhere:

9th May 2022 – All Creatures Great and Small: Reflecting on Biodiversity

‘Biodiversity’ was the theme for the May meeting of the Southern Dioceses Environment Network on Monday 9th May 2022.

John Paul de Quay

Guest speaker John Paul de Quay from the Journey to 2030 project spoke on the need to safeguard nature to ensure the future and diversity of all life on earth which is essential for the health, wellbeing and prosperity of humanity.

What is biodiversity? It is the diversity of all living things which includes genetic diversity within and between species, and of ecosystems. This ensures the stability of the natural world.

Evidence shows that there has been on average 68% decrease in wildlife population sizes between 1970-2016 with some areas such as South America being affected more. Why is this happening? Changes in land due to farming, over-fishing, pollution and climate change. Loss of biodiversity happens due to these constraints on species.

Laudato Si’ states that we are dust of the Earth, as we breathe air and need water, nothing is indifferent to us. In Acts 6:26 it shows that nature provides everything we need to survive, not only healthy air and water, but our happiness and wellbeing. Throughout scripture nature is continually mentioned showing God’s immense care for biodiversity. If we hold the attitude that we are more important than nature, we have forgotten that we are ‘dust of the earth’. This connection with faith is essential and it is important to spread this knowledge especially in schools to give confidence that we can do something to change the situation.

Mary Colwell

We were also very fortunate to be joined by the environmentalist, Mary Colwell. Mary has been campaigning for 11 years for a UK GCSE in natural history which has now been agreed upon and is set to take effect in 2025. This is essential so children are able to learn about how wildlife relates to us, to fall in love with nature again, to encourage them to make the right decisions in the future.

She runs a charity called Curlew Action which aims to help protect the curlew population, which is a flagship species for conservation.

She has now begun writing her 4th book.

See for more information.

14th March 2022 – Nourishment for Lent

Rebekah O’Keefe chaired the meeting and began by reflecting on words from Bishop John Arnold given at the previous meeting, especially when he said that 85% of the world’s population are men and women of faith who believe the environment is an important aspect of their faith. This is very encouraging.

We were asked last time to reflect upon what we will have liked to achieved by this time next year with regards to protecting the environment. What one thing has spoken to us personally and what steps do we need to take to make this achievable?

We invited to enter into a time of reflection used a 20-minute guide from the Pray-as-you-go website, Session 1 – The Providence of God:

Visit the Pray-as-you-go website to listen to the meditation

The reflection provides nourishment for our Lenten journey. It was taken from the ‘Pray as you go’ earth sessions and entitled ‘the providence of God’. It started with a reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?’  Do we share in Paul’s certainty that nothing can come between us and the love of Christ? Do we believe in everyday miracles?

We were given the consoling message of how ‘hope’ is to become aware of God’s providence shaping our lives and guiding us amid all that is happening in our world and unwanted experiences. As love is at the heart of divine providence, so we should love one another especially those in need; this is the essence of the season of Lent. We should listen to Him in prayer, choosing to do without what is superfluous in our lives.

28th February 2022 – Leaving Something on the Table

The Southern Dioceses Environment Network were pleased to welcome Dr David Ko and Richard Busellato to our first online evening event, discussing their recently published book, ‘The Unsustainable Truth’ (2021), how investing for the future is destroying the planet.

They demonstrate how, by seeking comfort and security, we end up with an economic system that exhausts our resources. Instead they propose a model of ‘Transformational Ownership’ to safely steward harmful resources to their end of life.

Arising from over thirty years’ personal experience of the investment industry, Richard and David’s presentation forms a powerful contribution to the debate surrounding the ethics of investment and sustainability.

15th February – Bishop John Arnold

Bishop John Arnold, Bishop of Salford, was the guest speaker at the second meeting of the Southern Dioceses Environment Network, held at lunchtime today, 14th February 2022.

He talked to us about his experiences as the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales spokesman on the Environment and his attendance at the UN Climate Conference, COP26, in Glasgow. While much was achieved in that meeting, he was disappointed that there wasn’t a sense of commitment from the world leaders to make the changes needed for 1.5C and we could still have scenarios of 2C, 3C or even 4C. We’ve got to look to COP27 (in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, 7-18 November 2022) to make more courageous efforts to introduce the changes that should have happened at COP26.

However, he told us as we look at the Church we should be pleased with the efforts of Pope Francis. “It was Laudato Si’ that really engaged so many people this time, pointing out real dangers and, as with everything he writes, it’s always a reminder that this isn’t for just institutions and bishops, it’s for each and every one of us. We, all of us, have got our part to play and he brings that gospel down to the individual level.” Our choices each and every day can make a difference.

Real interest has grown among our church members in the last few years, especially in our schools. He is pleased that Salford has started the Guardians of Creation project which will be helpful to all Dioceses, especially in matters of property where we can make changes in energy use as a large property owner. We all play a part in caring for our common home.

As it was Valentine’s Day, we also shared our Green Hearts and messages of hope on-screen during the meeting as part of The Climate Coalition’s annual #ShowTheLove campaign!

The next meeting of the Southern Dioceses Environment Network will be on Monday, 14th March 2022, 12.45-2.00pm. All welcome.

To register in advance with Eventbrite please visit:

For more details please contact Colette Joyce on 07593 434 905 or

See More: Key Climate Dates