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Earth Shepherds dedicate tree to Pope Francis in ceremony at Good Shepherd

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Earth Shepherds members Marianne and James Heileman place mulch around a Kentucky Yellowwood tree planted on Good Shepherd Parish grounds Dec. 11, as other members of the group look on. The environmental stewardship group dedicated the tree to Pope Francis. (Courtesy Photo)
Earth Shepherds members Marianne and James Heileman place mulch around a Kentucky Yellowwood tree planted on Good Shepherd Parish grounds Dec. 11, as other members of the group look on. The environmental stewardship group dedicated the tree to Pope Francis. (Courtesy Photo)

By Patty Lindner

Inspired by Pope Francis, parish group dedicated to environmental issues has taken action to plant a Kentucky Yellowwood tree on the grounds at Good Shepherd Parish in Montgomery.

The Earth Shepherds ministry team at Good Shepherd did some planning and fundraising over several months, and on Dec. 11, 2016, they planted tree that honors Pope Francis.

Their guide was this passage from the pontiff’s encyclical Laudato Si;: “There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions, and it is wonderful how education can bring about real changes in lifestyle.” Such environmental responsibility, he added can “reflect a generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings.”

The Earth Shepherds also intend the sapling to be, in co-leader James Heileman’s words, “a living symbol of hope for our kids and our grandkids. Someday, this tree will inspire youngsters, as it grows tall, blossoms in green and white, and reaches upward to the sky.”

In the dedication ceremony, co-leader David Oen reminded parishioners that, “We’ve come together as partners in a joyful and sacred work of creation and we’re delighted that this opportunity is ours.”

Bruce Gibb, who led the fundraising campaign, said, “We recognize there’s an order to God’s universe that’s beyond our comprehension.”

Dr. Jack Peltz, staff liaison, said, “This tree, a woman, a man – each of us is a tiny part of God’s magnificent family, each connected to others.”

The ministry team expressed gratitude to the pastor, Father Tom Mannebach, then gently placed small handfuls of mulch around the tree roots, and once again prayed together. Deacon Jim Jones offered a blessing for all assembled and for the tree.

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