St. John Vianney 8th Grade Retreat

“It was a great time away from the pressures of the world to think about God’s Creation” -Adam
“I believe this experience has brought me closer to God and my faith. I learned that I can just sit in nature and listen to God” -Anonymous
“We need to care for and protect the intricate works of God in nature” -Sara

Laudato Si’ Project had the privilege of helping plan and lead the 8th grade retreat for St. John Vianney School.  Our new partnership with St. John Vianney is the result of a program created by Marquette University High School and Laudato Si’ Project called “Our Common Home Explorer Program.” Laudato Si’ Project worked with St. John Vianney’s Youth Minister, Claire Hoffmeyer, to create a retreat experience focused on Care for Our Common Home. We wanted to create a retreat that would be prayerful, transformative, and fun. We call it “Contemplatives in Conservation.”

“I learned that caring for God’s Creation can affect others in a positive way” -Katie      
“It was very reflective and a good time to collect my thoughts. God was telling me to be thankful for Creation. I learned that God needs us to care for Creation.” –Anne  
“I heard God speaking to me about Care for Our Common Home”  -Joe
“God needs our help to care for the Earth” -Amelia
“I can praise God with everything I do and with my talents” -Bridget

The retreat took place on the beautiful wooded grounds of the Pallottine Retreat Center in Elkhorn, WI. The retreat began with an intro to Laudato Si’, witness talk, ice breaker, and group activity about finding God through beauty. In that activity, student groups searched through magazines to find images of people, places, and nature that struck them as beautiful and reflected God in some way. They presented their collages explaining the beauty in each image and created a group prayer.

“This retreat helped me see God in nature” -Conor
“One take away is to be a good steward of this Earth” -Julian
“Everyone needs to pitch in to help our world” -Andrew
“This retreat was faith-filled and peaceful” -Annie
“One take away is that I should take time out of my day to pray” -Morgan
“My experience was reflective, peaceful, and fun. I liked it a lot and it was a great time to hear God.” –Theresa

The remainder of the morning was spent outside doing various stations focused on forming a relationship with God and His Creation. Stations were titled: Be Still, Pray, Meditate, Give Thanks, Imagine, and Mercy. At the end of the stations, students reflected upon their experience and received a Care for Our Common Home patch as a visible sign of their retreat experience. A wonderful lunch was provided and the day concluded with mass at the retreat center. Special thanks to all the St. John Vianney teachers and MUHS student Henry Rohmer, for helping make this day a memorable one for students.

“My experience was fantastic and I was blessed to have been here” -Erin
“It was really fun to connect with God. I heard him speak to me about how to serve him and to go out and do things for the needy” -Michael
“God spoke to me and told me to never lose faith” -Ainsleigh

Monarch Migration Tagging

Over the past several weeks, Laudato Si’ Project has led numerous outings in order to tag monarch butterflies on their way to their Mexican wintering grounds nearly 2000 miles away. The small stickers, with a unique serial number, are affixed to their wings and when these butterflies are caught again in Mexico, knowledge of migratory pathways are better understood. You can take part in this citizen science research by visiting monarch

Holding monarchs appropriately ensures that you are not damaging their wings. Unlike other butterflies that do not migrate, monarch wings are sturdier. Monarch populations have declined by 80-90% over recent years and ensuring your yard has wild space for both milkweed and flowers will keep their populations strong in WI.

Monarch’s begin their migration around mid August in Southern WI and catching them


can be an unpredictable affair. Finding their favorite prairie plants helps increase the odds you will see them feeding. Monarch caterpillars are milkweed specialists but they are not alone. Milkweed tussock moth caterpillars also feed on milkweed and like monarch caterpillars, become distasteful to predators as a result. Whenever we take a group out looking for monarch’s, you always find other amazing species that call the prairie their home.

View our video below highlighting a prairie in late summer. It shows the diversity of plants and pollinators that a prairie holds. Contact Us if you would like a prairie planting, big or small, at your home, school, parish, or business.

“Sun and moon, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Stars of heaven, bless the Lord; Every shower and dew, bless the Lord; Cold and chill, bless the Lord; Light and darkness, bless the Lord; Lightning and clouds, bless the Lord; Let the earth bless the Lord, Mountains and hills, bless the Lord; Everything growing on earth, bless the Lord; All you birds of the air, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.”   – Daniel 3 (adapted)


World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation


September 1st marks the annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. On this day last year, Pope Francis announced that Care for Our Common Home will be added as a Work of Mercy in the Catholic Church. In his address last year, Pope Francis wrote:

As a spiritual work of mercy, care for our common home calls for a “grateful contemplation of God’s world” (Laudato Si’, 214) which “allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us” (ibid., 85). As a corporal work of mercy, care for our common home requires “simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness” and “makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world” (ibid., 230-31).

This day also begins the ecumenical  “Season of Creation”  which runs until October 4th, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.


Chesterton Academy students on retreat and ready to take a faith and ecology hike with Laudato Si’ Project

Laudato Si’ Project also recently began its partnership with Chesterton Academy of 1Milwaukee. Students were on retreat at the Holy Hill Basilica for the morning and in the afternoon were led by Laudato Si’ Project’s director, Joe Meyer, on a hike through the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Faith, ecology and stewardship were integrated into the beautiful natural scenery as students and faculty hiked several miles of the Mid Kettle Moraine.


Prayer from Pope Francis on 2016 World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation :

“O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned
and forgotten of this earth,
who are so precious in your eyes…

God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
God of mercy, may we receive your forgiveness
and convey your mercy throughout our common home.”

Praise be to you! (Laudato Si’)


The full message released about Care for our Common Home as a work of mercy can be found Here and a also Video of press conference about the World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation