Kids, families have good, clean fun during Hightstown parish environmental fair
By Jennifer Mauro | Associate Editor
St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Hightstown, may have brought the great outdoors inside, but there was no shortage of sunshine in the smiles of those who turned out for the parish environmental fair the morning of April 30.
“We have this environmental fair each year to let the parishioners know how important it is to pay attention to the environment – good clean air, good clean water and all we can do to keep our environment pure,” said Judy Camisa, a member of the parish’s social justice committee, which coordinated the event. “I have four kids and eight grandkids, and I want the world to be a good, happy place for them – a safe place – as far as the air and water goes.”
Photo Gallery: St. Anthony of Padua Environmental Fair
Many parishioners, local groups and organizations set up displays in the parish’s gym throughout the morning and early afternoon, offering environmentally friendly information and activities for those of all ages. There were organic gardening tips, recycling displays and healthy eating advice for adults and families, and arts and crafts, puppet shows, clowns and music for the younger generations. There were even handmade soaps at the Hightstown High School student booth, information about animals provided by Girl Scouts and a make-your-own bird feeder area where youngsters could roll a toilet paper roll in peanut butter and birdseed.
Joanne Tyne helped engage the younger crowd in the day’s lessons by dressing as a clown as she and John Tyne of JMT Productions, East Windsor, put on an interactive puppet show about the environment and recycling. JMT Productions visits churches and schools in the state and beyond to teach on many topics, including faith and recycling.
“With the Pope’s encyclical [‘Laudato Si’] about taking care of the environment, this is a wonderful way to remind people that the earth is a gift that God has given us and so we need to care of it,” Joanne Tyne said. “Through clowning and music and puppetry, kids remember what we teach them, and their parents do, too, so we want to teach everyone to reuse, and reduce and recycle.”
Lenore Isleib, coordinator of the parish social justice committee, agreed on the importance of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home.”
“As Pope Francis said in ‘Laudato Si,’ we’re all connected; we’re part of a wonderful web of life,” she said. “If we don’t take care of the planet, the planet’s not going to take care of us.”
Father Patrick McDonnell, pastor, said it’s important not only to be stewards of the physical environment, but of the spiritual and mental ones, too.
“Even in our words and vocabulary, our conversations should be environmentally respectful,” he said. “Sometimes we pollute the air with lots of verbiage and lots of words, but the quietness of the environment, sensitivity to the tranquility and solitude is very important.”
He also stressed the importance of teaching children how to be respectful of the economy, like, for example, water waste and not leaving the faucet running.
“We have here in the United States a great economy,” Father McDonnell said. “We have lots of affluence, but in our affluence, we also have lots of waste. I think in respecting the environment that God has given us, it’s so important that we teach our children very early, and we teach them by our example. We teach them by our charity that when we have excess, we just don’t just keep it and hoard it, but we share it with other people, other countries, and all that God wants us to do.”
Video by correspondent Hal Brown contributed to this report.[[In-content Ad]]