News, On Campus

CJBC Holds Laudate Deum Vigil Outside Leahy’s Office

A group of students and community members gathered outside University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J.’s office on Friday morning with candles in their hands.

Gabriela Levitt, president of Climate Justice at Boston College (CJBC), walked up to the front door and dropped off a paper copy of Laudate Deum, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the climate crisis and a follow up to his second encyclical, Laudato si’.  

“Pope Francis is calling for climate action,” Levitt, MCAS ’24, said. “Notably important to our cause is for Catholic institutions to divest from fossil fuels and to emphasize that it is a Catholic social teaching to engage in climate justice.” 

CJBC held a Laudate Deum vigil on Friday morning to share the pope’s call for environmental stewardship and divestment from fossil fuels with BC’s administration, according to a post on its Instagram account.

Attendees of the vigil met outside Gasson Hall before walking over to Leahy’s office, where they lit candles and shared poems and prayers before dropping off the copy of Laudate Deum on the doorstep.

“[Laudate Deum] is further calling on Catholic people and institutions to focus on fighting climate change and climate injustice and furthering climate justice,” Levitt said.

Among the seven attendees were Strad Engler and Ann Arnold, two members of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish’s “Green Team,” a climate-focused subcommittee of the parish’s Peace, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission.

“There are many pillars to the St. Ignatius Green Team,” Engler said. “In many ways, [the green team] is a faith-based approach to climate justice.”

Engler said that he and Arnold wanted to hear and join the voices of their fellow community members seeking climate justice.

“We are here to support these students who have been asking for a long time for BC to take seriously their Jesuit values and the Catholic values for social justice,” Engler said.

Levitt said that members of St. Ignatius and its “Green Team” have done quality work to advance climate goals around the BC community.

“They’ve been greatly helpful to us and understanding the significance of organizing the local Catholic community for local climate justice issues,” she said.

Emily Ternynck, social media coordinator for CJBC and MCAS ’25, said that while the way the University conducts its business can be inconsistent with climate justice, Laudate Deum’s religious argument for climate justice aligns with BC’s Catholic identity.

“I feel like this is just a really great way to appeal to the University’s values,” Ternynck said.

One attendee recited “Once the World Was Perfect,” a poem by former poet laureate Joy Harjo.

“Once the world was perfect, and we were happy in that world, and then we took it for granted,” the attendee read.

October 29, 2023