Caring for Creation and the Poor
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Diana Marin grew up in a family deeply rooted in the Catholic faith. “The work of justice and my faith go hand in hand for me,” says Marin, who was born in Colombia and raised in New York City.

But it wasn’t always that way, she recalls. “I grew up very aware of the challenges my family faced as immigrants and as a kid was taught to hand my worries over to God. My faith was very devotional, and separate from social justice,” she explains. “It wasn’t until my early 20s that I experienced Catholicism’s orientation towards those who are marginalized and how the work towards justice can be an expression of faith.

Marin earned a bachelor’s degree and then a master of divinity degree at Harvard University. She currently serves as program manager for Young Adult Mobilization with the Catholic Climate Covenant, a nonprofit that helps U.S. Catholics respond to the Church’s call to care for creation and for the poor.

The problem of climate change is too large for an individual approach, Pope Francis reminds us. It requires us to broaden our horizons and work together. This rings true in the search for the common good in general, but even more so in the call to care for our common home.

Marin works with other organizations that dedicate their efforts to caring for our common home. One such effort has developed between Maryknoll and the Catholic Climate Covenant through a curriculum called Wholemakers, designed to reach young people to explore and deepen their understanding of care of creation and climate action. Approximately 30 Catholic young adults, the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center in Seattle, Washington and the Youth and Young Adult Ministries Office within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops contributed to this curriculum.

The development of the Wholemakers curriculum began in 2021 and was launched in May. It is now available online. The curriculum, designed for high school students, college students and small group settings within parishes, offers three tracks: Spirituality and Ecology; Sustainability and Simple Living; and Social Action and Civic Love.

From leading trainings to developing resources, Marin provides young adults with tools to see themselves as agents for change in the Church and in the world.

The communities and individuals who use Wholemakers, in particular, are given tools to discern local needs.

One tool is “power mapping.” Through this method, participants identify connections between people with power and influence and the issues they are concerned with. An activity takes place as preparation for planning direct action and service projects. Participants learn to ask questions that encourage encounter rather than exacerbate polarization and adversarial relationships. There is also an activity to pray for discernment of what activities or action the community should decide to take.

Marin, who now lives in San Francisco, believes that young people want nuanced analyses of the causes of social injustices. They want to understand how these injustices overlap, what’s enabling them, and how they can respond to these issues, she says. “This is where I think our Catholic tradition has incredible guidance,” Marin reflects. “Integral ecology teaches us that issues intersect, that we are responsible for holding a broader viewpoint because we are not silos in this world: our actions and inactions can have a profound effect.”

One of Maryknoll’s valuable contributions, she adds, is to approach social analysis and social change by prioritizing the people on the margins of society.

 As a leader for other young people, Marin shares these words of advice: “We are called to be aware of how God moves through all creation and through us as advocates,” she says. “My dream for the world is that we uplift the dignity of all people and creation and that we see ourselves as active participants of the world we live in.”

Featured Image: Diana Marin (far right) meets with Common Home Corps, a group of young adult leaders who seek concrete solutions to climate change and environmental issues. (Courtesy of Diana Marin/U.S.)

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About the author

Ray Almanza

Ray Almanza, who earned master’s degrees in both philosophy and pastoral theology, serves the Southern California region as a Maryknoll mission educator/promoter. He leads the Maryknoll YAE community in Los Angeles.