President John Denning, C.S.C. Signs Statement In Solidarity With Pope Francis' Encyclical on the Environment

July 17, 2015

Stonehill has joined a growing number of Catholic colleges and universities world-wide that are responding to the Pope’s recent encyclical on the environment, which represents a call to action in addressing the climate and justice crises threatening the world today.

This week, President John Denning, C.S.C. signed a statement in solidarity with the encyclical, which is called Laudato Si, On the Care of our Common Home. So far, 150 Catholic higher education leaders in 25 countries have added their names to that statement, which is sponsored by the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN), in support of the Pope’s groundbreaking encyclical on care for creation.

“With this encyclical, Pope Francis has reminded us that we are all called to be stewards of creation and that caring for the environment means caring for each other, especially the poor and the vulnerable,” said Fr. Denning.

New Paths to Sustainability
According to the ISN website, these Catholic higher education leaders want to “provide influential leadership in discovering new and life-giving paths to address the pressing emergencies of climate change, social exclusion, and extreme poverty and in uncovering new paths to achieving peace, justice and environmental sustainability for the whole human family and the entire family of creation.”

To read the Declaration of Commitment that the leaders of Catholic higher education have signed, visit here.

Pledge of Saint Francis
In 2012, Stonehill signed the Pledge of Saint Francis becoming the 12th Catholic college in the United States to sign it. Initiated nationally by the Catholic Climate Covenant, the Pledge is a commitment made by Catholic individuals, families, parishes, organizations, institutions and universities around the country. It asks Catholics to live their faith by protecting God’s Creation and advocates on behalf of people in poverty who face the harshest impacts of global climate change.

On the Feast of Saint Francis in October this year, the College will rededicate itself to the Pledge of Saint Francis with President Denning follows his predecessor President Mark Cregan, C.S.C. in signing the pledge.

On his desk, Father Denning keeps a statue of Saint Francis to remind him of the importance of being faithful stewards of creation.

Campus Progress
Stonehill's increased commitment to the environment is evident in projects ranging from a solar farm and water conservation contests to Zipcars. Many of these projects stemmed from student-led efforts as a growing number of student groups on campus are dedicated to addressing environmental concerns.  They include the Activism Club, Students for Environmental Action (SEA), the Mindful Living Environmental Action Committee, ENACTUS (Enterprise, Action and Us), Food Truth, and more.

Some of the largest student-led initiatives have included food waste composting and an effort to phase out bottled water on campus. Stonehill now saves 600 pounds of compostable trash every week from ending up in landfills and also made a pledge to phase out the use of bottled water on campus. The College has also introduced a Green Fund, which supports student-led environmental initiatives.

Stonehill has recently expanded its commitment to sustainability by joining the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and plans on participating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) survey, a product of AASHE. At present, the College is implementing a building by building campus-wide energy management system.

Growing Climate Justice
A college-wide grassroots initiative—provisionally named Growing Climate Justice at Stonehill—is working to dedicate the next two academic years to a college-wide focus on Justice and the Environment. A small ad-hoc group has begun the planning, but it is looking for others on campus to contribute expertise and ideas to this endeavor. For more information, email Professor Mary Joan Leith at