Franciscan Earth Corps' Rhett Engelking was recently in New York City to spread the gospel of sustainability. Here's his report from the field.
Last weekend, my Earth Corps travels brought me to Brooklyn, Bronx, Long Island, and Garrison, N.Y. Thursday I made a mini-pilgrimage to St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan, home of the late Fr. Mychal Judge and the national shrine to St. Anthony of Padua. I had a lunch meeting at Bareburger with Amanda Lyons, a young woman working tirelessly on behalf of Franciscans International at the United Nations. Bareburger is a burger joint that is passionate about healthy, sustainable and community minded food. (I loved my burger!) I spent that evening celebrating the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua with Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, who were generous enough to accommodate me for the weekend.
Friday I met up with Kelly Moltzen, who is the nutrition coordinator at Bronx Healthreach, an organization that promotes empowerment and healthy living in urban multi-cultural populations. We traveled to Long Island, where a Secular Franciscan, Jean D'nofrio, OFS, gave us a tour of the many exciting ecological initiatives on the island. Jean is working to bring an Earth Corps chapter to Long Island and we discussed possibilities with local Francsicans. I was especially impressed by the Town of Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center.
Saturday, Kelly gave me a tour of the many urban gardens in her area and we broke St. Anthony bread with Karen Washington, who we discovered was a long standing Catholic with a Franciscan heart. Karen has been a passionate gardener and community activist for over 30 years and has helped found numerous organizations that empower urban communities to make farm fresh local produce available to inner city communities. We spent that evening in Garrison, N.Y., where Kelly and I worked to plan a "Care for Creation"-themed retreat with Fr. Fred of the Capuchin Youth and Family Ministries. Kelly was groomed in the Franciscan tradition through their youth retreat programs and wanted to give back from her wealth of experience. Later that evening we met with many of the Cap Corps, New York volunteers and their young adult friends. I could see the Franciscan charism was alive and well with this group as a majority of the non-Cap Corps friends were sporting Tau crosses. By the end of our many intimate discussions and exciting experiences, Kelly expressed to me her commitment to attend our training on September 20-22 of this year at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America located here in Washington D.C.