St. Francis Xavier’s Parish in Kanowit is dreaming of a Green Christmas this year! Fr Mathews Olili, who shared the work his community is doing in our recent Mission animation, tells us of last year’s Christmas Tree competition, and other projects that the parish is working on.

‘As a missionary, I feel that the care of our Common Home is not only an inseparable part of the Missio Dei in which all the baptised share, but also a responsibility given to each of us,’ Fr Mathews tells us. ‘It is part and parcel of what I am called to do in my vocation as a missionary.’

And the call to care for the earth is strong in Fr Mathews parish. ‘Kanowit Go Green’ is a program inspired by Laudato Si. The whole community is working to move Kanowit Parish towards becoming an Ecological Parish, as desired and promoted by Sibu Diocese to which Kanowit belongs.

An urgent need to tackle the challenges

Kanowit town sits where the Kanowit River and Rajang river meet. Just this year Kanowit has been subject to flooding and landslides which forced hundreds of people to flee their homes and cut the town off. But Fr Mathews’ parish has been working to become safer, greener and more self sufficient. They are planting trees around the parish compound to prevent landslides and provide fruit for the parish. Meanwhile the parish runs an organic farm producing fruit trees, vegetables and flowers. Sister Anna shares that they make their own organic pesticides using fermented rice. She says:

The organic farm has fruit trees, vegetables and flowers. We make organic pesticides and manure in this initiative.

And the church is investing in green energy.  James Angkin (left), the Parish Pastoral Committee Chairman, tells us:

“We have started changing the bulbs in the Church premises to L.E.D. bulbs and are in the process of installing solar power. This will also be used in the green-technology toilet that we are in the process of building. It will use water harvested from rain, natural light in addition to solar light and have enough ventilation for fresh air.”

The Green Christmas Tree project

In 2019, the various groups in the parish went one step further. They held a competition to create Laudato Si’ inspired Christmas trees. Many groups made the tree of vegetables and fruits, while some recycled plastic bottles rescued from the local dump. How inspiring, to create something so joyful from something which was a problem before. The trees also raised awareness of just how much is thrown away, and showcased the Parish’s drive to produce food for the community. A brilliant job!

It feels like Fr Mathews and his team are just getting started… He tells us:

I’m inspired by an Kenyan proverb which goes thus: “ Treat the earth well: it is not ours; we did not inherit it from our parents; rather it has been loaned to us by our children. It is a treasure we hold in trust for future generations”

We couldn’t agree more. Let’s make this Christmas the greenest yet!

Get inspired!

Christmas is a wonderful time of giving and sharing. But in the UK alone we throw out an extra 30% of waste over this period.

  • How could you tweak your Christmas traditions this year to create less waste? Could you find alternative ways of wrapping gifts? Maybe you could even have a go at creating a recycled Christmas tree, or at least some decorations!
  • Give the earth a Christmas gift by cutting waste, turning down the thermostat and donning a Christmas jumper to keep warm!
  • There are some lovely Christmas Craft activities for children on our Mission Together website this Advent. Can you repurpose old Christmas Cards or wrapping paper to make some of them?
  • Mission parishes like St Francis Xavier rely on our support to lift themselves out of poverty. Will you help us create self sufficient parishes with a donation this Christmas? Donate here>>

Follow our online Advent Calendar for more inspiration every day>>