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The Maltese OFM Province of St Paul the Apostle has teamed up once again with the Centre for Environmental Education and Research of the University of Malta, and the Interdiocesan Commission for the Environment to launch another course inspired by the spirit of Laudato Si’.

The course ‘Mimicking Natural Ecosystems – Growing Food Sustainably’ is meant to be yet another tool in the rediscovery of a better quality of life through simple and archaic processes such as agriculture. It aims at helping participants strengthen their connection to all that exists, while learning clean and sustainable ways of practicing agriculture.

This was the first time that this course has been offered, but the organizer’s intention is to offer it every year. This particular session has been designed in collaboration with the Foundation for Social Welfare Services of the Government of Malta that – amongst other operations – runs a therapeutic community for drug and alcohol addicts. The friars have been collaborating with the community for the last few months, giving their assistance to create and sustain a therapeutic environment following principles that belong to franciscan spirituality and permaculture alike. Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human environments.

Sessions were held in the premises of the ‘Santa Marija’ community, precisely to offer the opportunity to participants to experience a close encounter with the world of some of the marginalized of our society. And the experiment proved to be very fruitful, both for guests and residents together with members of staff.

‘Mimicking Natural Ecosystems’ forms part of a wider project implemented by the Franciscans in Malta to promote integral ecology, further inspired by the words of the Nairobi Plenary Council: ‘The Friars Minor want to bring about the vision of Laudato si’ through networking and collaborating with other groups, organizations, specialists and social movements. Although the rich heritage of our Franciscan tradition and spirituality allows us to offer an important contribution to dialogue, there are other organizations working in this field that we can listen to, from whom we can learn a lot and with whom we can collaborate in common projects (PCO/18, n. 157). We must all commit and devote ourselves towards the good of the human being, as there is an “inseparable bond between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace” (Ibid. n. 117).

Br. Mark Ciantar, OFM
Province of St. Paul the Apostle – Malta