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Catholic activist sees living green as a divine calling

SPRING HILL — When members of the What Comes Next young adult ministry at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church received a booklet written by Catholic justice and peace activist Mary Ann Holtz outlining a plan to help the environment, the group decided her message was one it wanted to share.

At 1 p.m. today, Holtz, a licensed mental health counselor from St. Paul's Catholic Church in St. Petersburg, will be at the church to present her 10-step plan to combat what she calls the "current global environmental crises."

A spokeswoman for the host group said they have high hopes for the event.

"In having this seminar, I am hoping to raise awareness to the members of the community of how the choices they make today will affect our environment in the future," said Erin Edwards, a member of the ministry's steering committee. "I hope that people make simple changes in their life, such as opting for glass instead of plastic at Starbucks."

Edwards also hopes people will take their own bags to the grocery store, use less water, recycle and begin to compost.

"I hope people will carry a water bottle around instead of buying the pre-filled bottles," she said. "I think it will be possible for change to occur once we become aware of the negative outcome we are creating on Earth."

The group will demonstrate how that can be done at the event by serving organic refreshments.

"To make others more environmentally conscious, cabbage leaves will replace Styrofoam plates, and beverages will be served in glass cups," Edwards said.

Holtz has been trying to educate people about topics such as war and violence, poverty and consumerism, addiction, relational wounds, trauma and depression since 1979.

"I have been striving for years to live a fairly simple lifestyle, in part because of care for our environment, though mostly because of the poverty of so many of our sisters and brothers in the world," Holtz said in a recent interview. "I was unaware of the severity of the environmental challenges until October 2006, when I read a book about the convergence of the peak oil and climate change crises. Through my prayer and study of 17 additional books and numerous Web sites, it became clear to me that I needed to weave this new awareness into all my other work."

Holtz said she believes we are living in a critical time.

"The choices we make in the next decade or two, especially here in the United States, will mean the difference between a livable future for our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews or one full of tragedies," she said.

The steps in Holtz's program include daily prayer, meditation, spiritual reading and study; getting outdoors; consuming less and sharing more; recycling and reusing; driving less; making better food choices; consuming less energy in the home and workplace; using energy and water-saving products; investing in companies that are environmentally responsible, and joining with others who are working toward the same goals.

Holtz said she believes the Bible supports her teaching.

"In Genesis 2, verse 15, the Lord God then took the human and settled the human in the Garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. In Matthew 25, Jesus teaches that as we treat the hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, homeless and ill, so we treat him. And Jesus telling his followers in John 14 that we are to do the same works he did, and even greater. So feeding, healing and even calming seas is our work to do with Christ."

A manual used by Holtz's parish for "greening" congregations can be found at

Holtz said she hopes to get a good response at her talk today.

"I am so grateful for this opportunity to talk with young adults, especially, because I believe the younger generations will be facing more of the difficulties than we older folks," she said. "I am praying that we will be able, with God's spirit, to generate hope and commitment for 'greening' our lifestyles."

>>if you go

Activist Holtz's presentation

St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church, 5030 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill, will present "Green — Living More Lightly on the Earth" by activist Mary Ann Holtz from 1 to 3 p.m. today in Xavier Hall. The event is free. Call 584-1996 or send e-mail to

Catholic activist sees living green as a divine calling 07/11/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 11, 2008 5:10pm]
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