An environmental awareness program that was started at an Oblate parish in Laredo, Texas is spreading across southern Texas.

The Greens of Guadalupe program  was created four years ago at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Laredo with a mission to protect, conserve and foster respect for the earth’s natural resources.  The parish prides itself as a leader in promoting a healthy community environment.

“We work to educate and guide others, hoping to create and preserve a healthy environment for future generations,” said Berta “Bertie” Torres, chairperson of the Greens of Guadalupe.

Over the past four years the Greens have worked to understand the plight of Mother Earth and the steps humans can take to conserve the environment.  Members gather valuable information and tips on “Reducing, Reusing and Recycling.”

An interactive presentation created by the Greens has been presented to students at Our Lady of Guadalupe School and to the parents of CCD students.

The presentations were so well received that they gained the attention of leaders from the Diocese of Laredo.  Bishop James Tamayo has given the group permission to take the presentations to ten other parishes in Laredo with the possibility that the program might expand to the entire diocese.

The Greens recently received a certificate of appreciation and nomination for a Texas Environmental Excellence Award from the Rio Grande International Study Center.  Their work has also been recognized by the Laredo daily newspaper, The Texas Observer. 

The Greens also take part in regular cleanup activities in the neighborhood surrounding the church.  They have advocated to the local city council about the dangers of plastic bags polluting the environment, particularly local waterways.  Weekly, the group sends e-mails to parish secretaries in Laredo to include a “green tip”  (in English and Spanish) for their church bulletins.

Father Richard Hall, O.M.I., Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, said the Greens of Guadalupe program is merely the latest example of how the parish has helped the local community.  The parish, founded by the Oblates in 1926, is the third oldest in Laredo.  It has about 750 families, primarily Hispanic and Mexican.

“Although Our Lady of Guadalupe’s community is small, we are close and that advantage helps us to be more personal with one another and experience a closer and richer spiritual, communal and social relationship,” said Fr. Hall.

Torres said parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe created the Greens of Guadalupe after an Eco-Mission presented by Fr. Darrell Rupiper, O.M.I.  Father Rupiper, who passed away in February 2009, was a staunch environmental advocate who traveled the country presenting Eco-Missions at parishes, in which he encouraged people to recognize the sacred interconnectedness of all creation.

“It is our hope that through these presentations, other groups can learn this important message, adopt the mission and continue the work that Fr. Rupiper initiated,” said Torres.