Remembering a longtime environmentalist, Bro. Jim Facette, SM. on Earth Day, April 22, 2023.
Bro. Jim Facette, SM, called the first Earth Day in 1970 "a watershed moment" for him. In the next 50 years, he lived and taught this conviction until his passing in December 2020.
Bro. Phil Aaron, SM, from the Marianist Community at Sawmill Rd, Dayton, OH, shares the following prayer:
Each Friday, in remembrance of our departed Bro. Jim Facette, SM, a longtime environmentalist, our community recites the following St. Francis Pledge to protect and heal God’s creation.
"We have come to renew our covenant with God and with one another in Christ Jesus, Our Lord. We have come to help protect God’s creation. We have come as followers of Jesus to commit ourselves anew to one another and to heal injustice and poverty. We have come to stand together against all threats to life.
We have come to discover some new beauty every day in God’s creation: the sunrise and sunset, flowers and trees, rainbows and stars in the sky, and many creatures of life.
We have come to listen to the “music of the universe’- water flowing over rocks, the wind, trees bending in the wind, and raindrops pattering the roof. We will always remember that God speaks to us through the beauty of creation, and we will try our best to answer God’s call to reverence all that God has created. Amen."
From Bro. Jim Facette's obituary
Bro. James Louis Facette, S.M., died on December 17, 2020, in Dayton, Ohio, at the age of 86, with 67 years of religious profession in the Society of Mary (Marianists). Bro. James was born on July 31, 1934, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Bro. Jim professed his First Vows in 1953 and Perpetual Vows on July 13, 1958. He earned a BS in Math from St. Mary's University in San Antonio and an MS in Science Education from Washington University in St. Louis.
Brother Jim was a beloved teacher, missionary, administrator, and passionate advocate of environmental stewardship. Devoted to his vocation as a Marianist, he expressed gratitude for the profound gift he’d been given in community: “the pursuit of justice, peace, and earth conservation within the Gospel spirit of our charism.”
A deep and deeply spiritual commitment to the environment complemented Brother Jim’s dedication to social justice issues. He spoke of the first Earth Day in 1970 as “a watershed moment for me.” It was, in his words, “the beginning of a clearer consciousness of the importance of the earth and the need to treat it with respect.” That growing awareness influenced the rest of his life as a Marianist.
Brian Reavey, former director of the Justice, Peace & the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Office for the Marianist Province of the United States, worked alongside Bro. Jim on the JPIC Advisory Committee and saw his impact first-hand. “Jim approached everything in the spirit of persistence, prayer, and perseverance,” Brian says. “Thanks to Jim’s initiative, many Marianist communities and the Provincial Office in St. Louis signed up for alternative clean energy from wind and solar sources, thereby promoting greater environmental justice and sustainability across the country.”
Brother Jim’s passionate dedication to the earth and the Integrity of Creation was a vital part of his prayer and spiritual reading. This engendered in him what he called a post-traditional spiritual worldview. Through reading and reflection, he came to believe “there is a drama that is unfolding before our eyes. The whole universe – both cosmos and culture –is going somewhere, and we wonder if we shouldn’t be part of that.” The Christian story, he wrote, “is ultimately a story of the future, a subtle spiritual whisper that calls out to us from both the depth of biblical revelation and the heart of the cosmos itself, suggesting that what goes on in this world may be connected in some small way to the evolutionary destiny of the universe.”
Those who knew Bro. Jim understood well that his spirituality was not a matter of idle musing. Rather, it led to action and engagement, says Bro. Philip Aaron, SM, who lived with Bro. Jim at the Sawmill Road community. “Jim was truly a Child of The Universe,” Bro. Phil says. “From his volunteering with Five Rivers Metro Park and the Marianist Environmental Education Center (MEEC) to his personal prayer life, he was consistent in understanding that all of life is connected. He always sought to be conscious of his responsibility to safeguard the earth.”
Sawmill Road community director Bro. Alex Tuss, SM, says, “In Jim’s life, a passionate commitment to the earth and the environment – and an equally passionate commitment to social justice – animated his service, his prayer, and his spirituality as a Marianist. As he himself said, ‘We must regain an intimate relation to the earth. If we don’t do that, we will not be able to deal justly with each other.’”
Bro. Larry McBride, SM, recalls, “I never saw a side of Jim except one which was filled with tenderness and concern – both for those around him and for Mother Earth,” “He was sensitive to all the issues involved in the degradation of nature because he knew that, as the physics he taught so well explains, we have to respect and reverence our material universe in order to respect ourselves. Jim was a constant campaigner for that respect, and he gained the respect of many because of his witness.”
May he rest in peace.
For more details about this year's Earth Day, visit www.earthreminder.com.