Student Engagement in Climate Justice

Community Organizing Project: Protagonists of Transformation

Aug 30, 2022

When Pope Francis charged young adults in the Catholic Church to “be protagonists of transformation”, Anna Robertson took note. Until July of 2022, Anna served as the first Director of Youth and Young Adult Mobilization at Catholic Climate Covenant and recently completed the Community Organizing for Climate Justice as Love in Action training. For her final project, Anna designed the Common Home Corps, a cohort-based mentorship program to build a youth movement for climate justice within the Catholic Church. The goal of this program is to “equip and inspire young people across the U.S. Catholic sphere to be protagonists of transformation toward a society shaped by integral ecology”.

Throughout her time at the Covenant, Anna heard from both young adults in the U.S. Catholic community and those who accompany them in ministry that climate change is a concern, and climate justice a priority. These insights are consistent with findings from a study from Springtide Research Institute which found that 75% of young Catholics (ages 13-25) are concerned about the environment. Anna used the mentored 12-week practice phase of the community organizing training as an opportunity to explore what kinds of programs could equip both Catholic young adults with the tools to constructively engage in climate justice work and those engaged in young adult ministry with the practical and pastoral tools to accompany young adults in moving through climate anxiety toward meaningful action rooted in faith. What emerged from the series of one-to-one meetings Anna conducted for the course in conversation with Kelly Marciales, her assigned mentor for the course, was Common Home Corps, a project plan for engaging small, local cohorts of Catholic young adults in faith-based community organizing training focused on bringing about climate justice in the Church and world.

With 17,000 parishes, billions of USD in endowments, and millions of acres of land, the Catholic Church in the U.S. has the potential to make an incredible impact for climate justice. Anna believes that the youth and young adults in the Catholic Church have the power to push the Church into action and has found that leaders in the Catholic Church agree.

“Bishops are not normally young people, but we are like Grandfathers, and grandfathers normally listen to their granddaughters and grandsons. They have very close relationships to their granddaughters and grandsons. So please, the young people: Tell your Grandfather Bishop about [fossil fuel] divestment”, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich.