Morgantown Priest Joins in Ecumenical Discussion on Care for the Environment

By Colleen Rowan
MORGANTOWN—Father Walter Jagela, pastor of St. John University Parish in Morgantown, took part in an ecumenical discussion concerning care for the environment. Joining him in the April 22 gathering in Morgantown were Pastor Zac Morton of Morgantown First Presbyterian and Rabbi Joe Hample of the Tree of Life Congregation.
In his remarks, Father Jagela said he focused upon Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’,” which was promulgated in 2015.
“What we have we must care for so that we can pass that down to future generations,” Father Jagela said. “Francis states that our concern for the environment is no loner optional, but an integral part of the church’s teachings. It is integral to who we are as a people of faith.”
No matter what the social justice issue is, Father Jagela said, “first and foremost must be the dignity of the human person.” Especially with the issue of protecting the environment, he said.
Attending the gathering were West Virginia University students and residents from the local community of various faith traditions, including parishioners of St. John’s. Father Jagela said that there was a great response from those in attendance to get together and talk about the issue. “All of us agreed this is a very complex issue,” he said, “but we must start somewhere.”
Noting that all people are part of a universal family, Father Jagela also shared his experiences in his September visit to the U.S. border with Mexico in El Paso, Texas, as a representative of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston through the National Federation of Priests’ Councils.
“Faith tells us that the earth, all of creation is a gift and … we must care for it, we must cherish it, embrace it,” Father Jagela said, in order that all may enjoy creation as well, now and in the future.
“Creation and care for it is not relative,” he said, “but is something that is relevant for our time.”