PARK FOREST, IL-(ENEWSPF)- More than 300 persons gathered at St. Irenaeus Church in Park Forest on June 23 for a program sponsored by the Park Forest People of Faith, “Climate Change: The Issues, The Challenges, The Consequences.”
The encyclical of Pope Francis, “Laudato Si,” was put forth as the impetus for the climate forum. Former Park Forest Mayor John Ostenburg, in an overview of the encyclical, said, “Following the recommendations of Pope Francis is not a matter of choice; rather it is our obligation.” He recently stepped down as chairperson for the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Environment Committee, which provides sustainability guidance to 270 communities in the Chicago region.
Keynote for the forum was presented by Tom Skilling, highly regarded and nationally respected meteorologist for the super-station WGN. Skilling showed slides and movies on the melting of the polar ice caps, the disappearance of glaciers, and how methane is entering lakes and other water sources. He used examples of weather changes he has witnessed during his more than 40 years of reporting and explained how climate change is causing those events.
Other speakers included Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-Illinois), who addressed actions and failures on the part of Washington in addressing climate matters, and Dale Sands, co-chair for the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction Private Sector Initiative, who spoke regarding worldwide disasters that are the result of climate change.
Rev. Terry Johnson, the pastor at St. Irenaeus, said following the forum, “It was one of those St Irenaeus and Park Forest moments where I was proud and honored to be a part of this parish and community.” Father Johnson has a history of promoting inter-faith and social justice programs at St. Irenaeus. He has created a food bank that feeds more than 400 families each month and also initiated a community garden on the church grounds that provides fresh produce for needy families. Earlier public forums sponsored by the Park Forest People of Faith at St. Irenaeus have focused on immigration and “Dreamers,” gun violence, and food deserts.
Climate Program Video
The event ran two hours thirty-four minutes. A complete video of the forum follows courtesy the St. Irenaeus YouTube channel:
Climate Program Photographs
Photos from the event by Shelia McGann and Dominic Balmaseda:
See full-size photos here on eNews Park Forest’s Flickr account. Follow us!