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Blessing of Animal and All Gods Critters

Fr. Gene Delmore, S.J. reflects on the recent blessing Bellarmine's Greenhouse and chicken coop.
It was a scramble after school on October 4 (Feast of Francis of Assisi), but 10 students, a parent, Amy Savage (faculty member and Greenhouse Coordinator), even “Penny,” a basset-beagle dog, lined up between the greenhouse and the chicken coop while Fr. Gene Delmore, S.J. read the opening scripture from Genesis 1:20… “let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures.” The Blessing Prayer was put together by Fr David Mayovsky, a diocesan priest, cousin of our Fr. Fred Mayovsky, S.J. and graciously passed onto Fr. Gene for another blessing occasion. After the Genesis reading, intercessions were led by Eva, a sophomore, “For all God’s creatures that breathe and move and live, we thank you Lord.” Then a blessing prayer: “Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures, you inspired Francis of Assisi to call all animals his brother and sister, may they live according to your plan.”

This prayer is such a part of Pope Francis' plea for the environment and his call to care for “Mother Earth,” our common home and the sacredness of all life from the womb to the tomb. This writer was moved to see these young people enthusiastically engaged in the planting and care of the greenhouse projects now called the “Kateri Garden” where a barren patch of earth was brought to life with indigenous plants, trees, bright flowers (especially the sunflowers) and benches a fountain at the center (which the bees and birds visit regularly) and a gazebo for students and faculty to gather for class projects from science to literature, theology and even celebrations with food and art. 

Some of my brother Jesuits who have been involved in the greenhouse-garden-sustainability project and Fr. Pete Henriot, S.J. who was a regular member of the “sustainability committee” (now residing at Los Gatos, our Jesuit retirement center), Fr. Jerry Chapdelaine, S.J., who loves to water the plants, and Fr. Greg Celio, S.J. (Bellarmine’s new Jesuit Superior). On Sunday’s upward of 15 students, and sometimes a few parents, gather with Amy Savage to continue with projects from tending the four worm bins (using food compost from the Jesuit kitchen), checking the four chickens (raised by hand and tame and now starting to lay eggs) to caring for the three bee hives that produced 80 pounds of honey this year. One of our four Jesuit Universal Apostolic Preferences is “Collaborating in the care of the earth, our common home.” I think the Kateri Garden is a great endeavor that is sending ripple effects of sustainability throughout the entire school community.