Congregational Profile: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Grove City, OH: How it began in one parish


Congregational Profile: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Grove City, OH: How it began in one parish
In 2016, prompted by Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si,” we at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Grove City, Ohio, held two 8-week sessions of discussions on the encyclical and at the end of the second session, our pastor, Fr. Daniel J. Millisor, appointed the discussion leader, Sister Nancy Miller, OSF as chairperson and called together a team to explore how the parish might lower our carbon footprint. The Creation Care Council (CCC) of our parish meets monthly for prayer, discussion and action in response to Laudato Si’s call for greater care for our common home.

We conducted a parish survey, with the intention of enhancing awareness among parishioners, as well as to determine if, and how, members were already incorporating recycling and composting into their daily lives. The results were highly, though not entirely, favorable. In addition to regularly inserting information and suggestions into our parish bulletins, taking the CCC members to tour a landfill, recycling plant, and the OSU Byrd Polar Research Center, we requested that all committees at the parish look at ways to reduce or eliminate their use of Styrofoam dinnerware. Rather than condemn polluters, we wrote thank you notes to businesses that showed environmental stewardship. We began annually purchasing and giving away seedling trees to plant on Earth Day. We took on trying to improve parish recycling efforts – providing new recycling containers for all parish offices, inviting a local official – an environmental expert – to explain to us what is and is not recyclable, preparing an interactive recycling quiz at the parish festival, and then attempting to bring recycling to the parish picnic and festival.

The efforts to incorporate recycling in parish events “failed” the first year, but we got it right the second year and this (the third) year, we successfully introduced food waste composting to Lenten Parish Fish Fry dinners, the Parish Picnic, and our largest parish event of the year: the Parish Festival. The 2019 Parish Festival served an estimated 5,000 meals, working with food vendors to increase their ability to serve compostable dishware and cutlery. In total, the CCC was able to divert 2,704 gallons of waste from the local landfill, which constituted 86% of all waste at the Festival.

We also exceeded all expectations in soliciting nearly 100 volunteers to help teach and monitor correct depositing of these materials - without tapping the usual volunteer corps that was still needed to keep the regular parts of the festival going. With the support of our pastor and dedicated CCC members, we’ve come a long way, and still feel like we have only just begun!
Sister Nancy Miller, OSF
Roman Catholic
Climate and Energy

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