Archdiocese releases environmental action plan to combat climate change

Photo Courtesy of Archdiocese of Newark
Many parishes, including Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Montclair, pictured, have created community gardens to foster sustainability — one of many initiatives the Archdiocese of Newark is pursuing to help the environment.

NEWARK, NJ — Days after the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference came to a close on Nov. 18, the Archdiocese of Newark’s Environmental Justice Task Force released its own plan to guide parishioners on how they can help the planet.

“Laudato Si’ — On the Care of Our Common Home: Actions for the Archdiocese of Newark” is a localized version of Pope Francis’ own “Laudato Si’” environmental encyclical, which states that caring for Earth is a Christian duty. To help local Catholics fulfill this obligation, the document presents seven goals for reversing climate change and environmental degradation. Each goal comes with a menu of corresponding actions that individuals, families, parishes and organizations are encouraged to pursue in their communities. For instance, to achieve “Goal 1: Response to the Cry of the Earth,” people can install solar panels, compost or fix a leaky faucet, among other options.

The full list of goals and actions can be read at

“We are very excited to see how parishes and parishioners of the archdiocese will implement the ‘Laudato Si”’ action plan,” said Father Timothy Graff, director of the archdiocesan Social Concerns Office, which oversees the environmental justice task force. “It allows all of us to respond to our Holy Father’s call to care for our common home.” 

Because the environmental justice task force recognized that manpower and finances vary among individuals and organizations, it categorized each recommended action in the plan as “easy,” “moderate” or “advanced” so everyone can effortlessly identify which options are within their means. Additionally, the plan includes links to resources and organizations that can provide assistance.

“Climate change is real. Resources are finite. Droughts, wildfires and floods all exact a price on us,” task force Vice President Gerry Dalzell said. “But we can all address these, individually or collectively.”

With the encouragement of Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, archbishop of Newark, the task force was created in 2019 with the mission of restoring God’s creation to its original dignity. In addition to crafting the action plan, the task force has established a subcommittee of parish liaisons to foster environmental advocacy at the local level. Activity generated by this subcommittee has included the following: Notre Dame Church in North Caldwell planted a pollinator garden and cleaned up a nearby neighborhood; St. Lucy Church in Newark pushed for the creation of the Essex-Hudson Greenway through efforts such as obtaining signatures for the initial petition and other outreach; St. Catherine Church in Glen Rock holds Sustainable Sundays monthly to promote ways of helping the planet; and Our Lady of Mercy Church in Park Ridge launched a Creation Care Corner in its weekly bulletin, distributed wild seed packets to parishioners, and advocated for the nonprofit Save Barnegat Bay, among other efforts.

To learn more about the environmental justice task force and its action plan, visit