PARAÑAQUE City, July 3, 2015—Smokers, take heed.
The “Novena Capital of the Philippines” is set to become a “No Smoking” haven starting on July 31, 2015.
Fr. Joseph O. Echano, rector of the much-visited National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help told CBCP News in an interview that the decision to make the church “green” and “smoke-free” is in line with the ongoing Year of Jubilee celebrated by the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (C.Ss.R.) worldwide, thanking the Lord for 150 years of helping spread the devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
“I believe that we at the shrine must embody what we want to preach … and what we want to preach is sustainable living, sustainable relationship with Mother Nature, with God’s creation … And that begins with the shrine,” he said.
Moreover, Echano explained that the “greening of the shrine” is also the proactive response of the Redemptorist Community of Baclaran, which he heads, to “Laudato si’,” the recent encyclical of Pope Francis, where he underscores the responsibility of all humans, regardless of race and religion, to care for the planet, “our common home.”
Besides the prohibition on smoking, the priest went on to share that the Baclaran Redemptorists also plan to cultivate vegetable gardens inside the shrine, using recyclable materials, in order to show devotees and pilgrims it is possible to plant vegetables even in an urban setting.
On top of all these, the rector noted the congregation intends to put up solar panels in the compound as a safe and clean alternative to conventional energy sources, and also in anticipation of a looming power crisis in the future.
“Although we know it will cost much money, we would like to do our part in helping lessen carbon footprint in the environment,” Echano said.
“They say the easiest solution to this problem is coal, but we cannot have any of that since the destruction it is expected to do far outweighs its supposed benefits,” he added. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)