The 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, 2020

Today is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. 50 years…so hard to believe! It seems like only yesterday that I gathered with hundreds (if not thousands) on the New Haven Green to advocate for our Mother Earth—and that was 30 years ago!

IPM, like so many of our friends and community partners around the world, will commemorate this important anniversary in a variety of physically appropriate and Earth-friendly ways. Most importantly, our Project Partners and Indigenous Regional Staff remind us daily of the deep connections between justice for the Earth and for all its Creatures.

For us, an inclusive focus on Environmental Justice began at our founding and was codified with a special Environmental Justice Project Partner category some two decades ago. As you will read below, the Environmental Justice focus of our Partners continues to grow as the connections between social and environmental justice deepen.

This year, Earth Day comes right on the heels of Passover & Easter. The proximity, in the midst of continued physical distancing from one another, reminds us in a truly Franciscan sense that justice and liberation (and I don’t mean of Virginia!) is a communal endeavor grounded in our care for one another and all that our Mother Earth, Father Sky, Sister Moon, and Brother Sun provide.[1]


During this time of deep sadness and decreased human activity we continue to witness acts of heroic human action. And as most of us keep our physical distance from one another, we have witnessed the Earth and its creatures springing back to life. Cormorants fishing in the canals of Venice, lions lazily lying on the roadsides in Kenya, pigeons taking over El Salvador’s plazas, and a smog-free blue sky in Delhi, are reminders of the resilience of the natural world if we will only commit to lessening our human impact through a depending of our shared commitment.

Earth Day—like Passover & Easter—is a reminder of what is possible if we are willing risk personal transformation. Risking to provide quality medical care for all our world’s citizens as created equal in God’s eyes. Risking to imagine what it means to spend more time at home with those we love than off at work chasing financial success. Risking to adopt sustainable practices that will ensure the Earth’s viability for our children and generations to come.

I hope you will take a moment to commemorate Earth Day in your own way this year. May you find time to nourish yourself in the midst of our Mother Earth, our Brother Air, and Our Sister Water while responding appropriately to the continued threat of COVID-19.

Earthly Yours,  Joe Cistone

1. Special thanks to my Franciscan Brother and IPM International Executive Board Member, Rodrigo de Castro Amede Peret OFM, for always reminding me of the prophetic nature of Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of Creation.

#HolyDaysAndPhysicalDistancing #Passover #Easter

#Passover & #Easter

Many of us we are now in the midst a sacred time. While it is certainly hard to believe it’s already Passover & Easter, it may be harder still to come to terms with remaining in the continued fast of physical distancing.

For a hugger like me, the challenge of physical distancing is profound. While I have been blessed with the ability to work from home and the added blessing of extended time with Alyne & the kids, I—like you I’m sure—miss being with everyone else. Facebook, Skype, Zoom, YouTube and the rest can be wonderful vehicles for staying socially connected and getting work done, but nothing can replace physical presence.

It was the same physical presence, or lack thereof, that our faith traditions commemorates this week. From a Passover meal to murder for standing up to Empire… From Mary Magdalene discovering an empty tomb to #Liberation from bondage in a foreign land. What these last holy days highlight most deeply, is the importance of #SacredPresence in our lives.

For the followers of Moses & Miriam: no journey was too far if taken together in faith. For those of us who follow Jesus of Nazareth: while we may continue to debate the actual physical nature of Resurrection, we know that Jesus’ resurrected physical presence among them was at the very heart of early Christian community and belief.

These days many of us are obliged to worship remotely once again, but the simple truth is that the Peace that Passes All Understanding will be with us no matter where and how we gather.

I pray that you will continue to feel and be emboldened by the presence of God’s Spirit in your life during these #HolyDays, as we each look forward to the day when we can be physically present with one another once again.

Amani/Pace/Paix/Paz/Peace/Namaste/Shalom, Joe



from Italia to where I sit

Friends and loved ones

caught in a web

Tangle of misunderstanding

of fear and othering

Inability to take heart

to take responsibility

Where O God

to find peace at times like this

Where O Soul

burdened down

Where O Lungs

longing for breath

Where O Heart

reaching out to others

Hands that cross the divide

spreading to feel as one

Novel Coronavirus

infection in the millions

Deaths untold

no means to say goodbye


disease eating the heart of America

Facemasks lacking

Gowns sodden

Ventilators broken

Cries unheard

The times are heavy

the light is darkened

The rain offers cleansing

the sky a ray of possibility

Here in the silence of the morning

in the messages of friends far and wide

We find some peace

a deeper sense of belonging

a strengthening of spirit

a burgeoning of will


© Joe Cistone, 3 April 2020