THAILAND – Pope inspires parish to plant 800 trees 


Catholic parishioners of Mount Carmel Church in Paphanawan, in the far northeastern region of Thailand, have come up with an idea to combat the environmental threats around them, including water shortage. Inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical on caring for creation, they decided to plant hundreds of new trees to celebrate World Environment Day.

Thailand is suffering its worst drought in the last 20 years, with  water levels in river basins, dams and reservoirs only 10 percent of normal levels. This has had an adverse effect on farmers in many regions. Pollution and decline in wildlife population are also of great concern.

As part of a reforestation program, the parish is planting 800 trees to help contain air pollution, prevent soil erosion and maintain soil fertility. By maintaining temperature and ground water level in the area, the new trees will also provide habitat for wild plants and shelter for animals and birds.

Parish priest Fr Daniel Khuan Thinwan said “Pope Francis has enlightened us and appealed to us in his encyclical ‘Laudato Sì’ for collective action and bold cultural revolution to tackle environmental issues.”

Previously environmental and climate change discussions had been mainly confined to scientists, activists and those engaged in politics and economics. Pope Francis has brought a broader perspective, giving a new dimension on the issues through spirituality and faith.

 “As pastors it’s our responsibility to take these teachings to the peripheries so that the faithful can find their true meaning in practice,” Fr Daniel said and added “Pope Francis has touched the key points of the environment, which has been a universal reality and especially in the local area a challenge. The question is: how to put these teachings into reality?”

Families grow plant saplings and bring them to the church in the Diocese of Thare and Nonseng. After Sunday Mass, young and old together dig holes and plant the saplings to help replenish the forest and bring greenery to the hills. As the monsoon season progresses, the rains will help the plants to grow quickly.

Fr. Daniel said the effort is “a small step which will help to make an impact on climate change for a better world …. We need to tackle these issues and challenges before it too late to save our planet, our ‘common home’.”

 ACN Malta