Rita Belletty remembers the moment she started to think seriously about climate change and her part in the problem and solution. A friend showed her an article in the newspaper about flooding in Bangladesh. The photographs showed people whose fields had been washed away by the snowmelt from the Himalayas and this really fired Rita up.
‘I’m from Calcutta,’ she said. ‘ Bangladesh is nearby so this made it very personal.’
Rita wanted to help people to understand what climate change was about and how our actions influence it so she started the Climate Change Action Group at St John Bosco Church, Woodley.
After a visit to a Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) conference Rita changed the name of the action group to LiveSimply and began the process of working toward the LiveSimpy Award.
In 2012 St John Bosco church became the first congregation to win the LiveSimply Award. To win they had to put into practice in nine different areas the three principles of LiveSimply: living in solidarity with people in poverty; living simply; and living sustainably with creation.
‘Climate change immediately makes people feel helpless,’ said Mary Johnston who is the FairTrade Organiser for St John Bosco church as well as a volunteer with the church’s LiveSimply Group. ‘It’s such a big issue; but LiveSimply, people can understand.’
‘LiveSimply is a movement rather than a group of people,’ explained Rita. ‘By living simply we are living sustainably with creation and in solidarity with the poor.
‘People are the ones who are paying the price and we are trying to relieve the pressure on them.’
‘The moment you start looking around the world,’ said Mary Price, LiveSimply volunteer, ‘you see how we are affecting the rest of the world. For instance in Nicaragua where mud slides covered the fields and ruined the crops or the flooding in Bangladesh I realised that my actions were spoiling it for everyone.
‘Part of our own duty is to extend help beyond our bounds as well a in it. Popes talked about it in their sermons.’
‘This is not a one year exercise,’ said Rita, ‘we were doing a lot already and we continue to do them. We do need new ideas though. We forget the reason we are doing it and need to stimulate people again.’
As well as challenging the congregation working with the LiveSimply Group has been personally challenging. ‘I have begun to understand what God wants of me.’ said Rita. ‘I’ve always thought the demands on me were greater than I was able to do. I now know that He won’t ask me to do more than He is able to support me.’
‘I would really encourage other parishes to do this,’ said Mary Price. ‘The things that need to be done are not difficult. What is difficult is convincing people they have the keys and the ways and means of doing this.’
If you are interested in finding out more about LiveSimply look at this link:
The altar at St John Bosco church