Eco-parish success

Holy Family Parish Emerton, a Jesuit parish in Sydney, recently received two environmental awards recognising a range of ecological initiatives.


The Holy Family Parish Emerton in New South Wales recently received two prestigious environmental awards for its climate and environmental action commitments. The parish has now become the fourth Catholic church in Australia, and the second in NSW, to be recognised by the Five Leaf Eco-Awards.

The parish received a Basic Certificate as well as an Eco Worship Award. The double recognition comes as acknowledgement for the many actions the church has taken. Among these are: establishing an environmental action group; installing solar panels and a water tank; draught sealing; as well as introducing a worm farm and a native garden.

The inclusion of eco-theology quotes in their parish bulletin was also a factor. So too were:

  • the hosting of sustainability workshops and education; 
  • a Lenten carbon fast; 
  • participating in the Season of Creation and the launch of their Earth Ministry; 
  • using a Creation Eucharistic prayer: 
  • creating an environmental walk around the parish.

Parish priest Fr Greg Jacobs SJ said the vibrant, multicultural parish was deeply encouraged by the awards and keen to continue their commitment to care for God’s creation. Fr Greg will be moving to the Jesuit parish in Brisbane in the new year, but his replacement, incoming parish priest Fr Cao Nguyen SJ, was able to co-celebrate Mass and share in the celebration with the wider parish family at the 10:30am Mass on Sunday 12th November.

Fr Greg Jacobs SJ in front of the parish building with the solar panels.

The website of the Five Leaf Eco-Awards describes itself as an “ecumenical environmental change program for religious organisations.” Created as a series of non-competitive awards, the program “assists, inspires and rewards faith communities for taking environmental action and becoming more sustainable in response to God’s call to care for creation.” 
The awards encourage holistic environmental action covering five main areas: buildings, worship, congregation, outreach and community leadership. There are seven award categories – three introductory awards and four advanced awards. To earn an award, churches simply complete actions to fulfill the criteria governing that award category and are then presented with certificates of recognition for their achievement. The Five Leaf Eco awards align with the Parramatta Diocesan commitment to the Caritas Earthcare parish programme as well.

Holy Family Parish Emerton prides itself on being “one of the most culturally diverse and vibrant Catholic communities within the Diocese of Parramatta, located in the heart of Sydney and Mt Druitt.” Established on 1 June 1965 under the leadership of Fr Patrick Archbold, whose tenure lasted 12 years, the parish now comprises at least 800 regular parishioners, a number of services, agencies, ethnic communities and various ministries to help meet the needs of the local community.

Sue Martin, Ecology Project Officer with the Australian Province of the Society of Jesus, and chair of the Cattai Hills Environment Network, visited the church to present their awards. She said, “It’s wonderful to see another Catholic parish earn one of these prestigious awards as they live out the spirit of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato Si’ and his recent follow-up, Laudate Deum.”

Five Leaf Eco-Awards

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Sue Martin presenting Fr Greg Jacobs SJ with the eco-awards.