Devotees of the Senior Santo Niño planted almost two thousand seedlings of various species of endemic trees since January 2021 in Monte Maravilla Climate-Smart Village, a 10-hectare Augustinian property in Dumanjug, Cebu that is managed by the Santo Niño Augustinian Social Development Foundation, Inc. (SNAF).
The devotees belong to organizations affiliated with the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño (BMSN), such as the Augustinian Vocation Promoters (AVP), Basilica Pilgrims Assistant Volunteers, San Nicolas Reflexologists, Order of St. Augustine-Communitarian Action towards Resilience, Empowerment and Service (OSA-CARES), Creative Arts Ministry and Confradia del Santo Nino. At least one thousand seedlings were planted under increment weather by the AVP, headed by Maylen A. Licatan, Dean of College of Arts and Sciences of the Cebu Doctors University.
The devotees took time out from their work to travel from the city to immerse with the farmers of the parched, rolling hills of Monte Maravilla on weekends. On the dry slopes, they planted hardwood such as narra. And on the grassy lower areas, they planted fruit trees, such as guyabano.
Student interns of the BMSN Media Center (BMC) also extended caring hands for Mother Earth by planting seedlings. The Mass Communication students were led by BMC Director Fr. Genesis Labana, OSA, in their recent exposure trip at the site.
The tree growing activities are aligned with the Laudato Si campaign of SNAF as it seeks concrete response to the ecological crisis amidst nonchalant resignation, obstructionist attitudes, and plain indifference among some faithful. Through these activities, SNAF hopes to drumbeat more engaging actions from all sectors in contributing to the realization of the call of the Papal Encyclical.
The trees of hope symbolize a personal commitment of devotees for ecological conversion in actively confronting the human roots of the environmental degradation of our common home.
Their hopes could be summarized in the following excerpt from the ‘Tree Planting Prayer in Honor of Laudato Si’:
God of Wonder, as we gather together to bless the earth and celebrate the potential of the tree before us, we pray that it may serve as a living witness to our commitment to heal our common home through long-lasting, bold changes. Grant us the courage to continue to take this stand for the sake of the goodness of your creation, and the inspiration and delight it provides us. Through Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen