Hurst prepares to celebrate 51st Earth Day with stewardship lecture

Ashley Barletta, Staff writer

Being an environmentally conscious institution, it is no surprise that Mercyhurst is hosting an Earth Day lecture. The Sister Maura Smith Earth Day Lecture occurs annually, with this being the 51st anniversary of the celebration. The lecture will take place on April 22 at 7 p.m. this year. The event will be held over Zoom so that as many people as possible can attend while still maintaining social distancing. Father Daniel P. Horan, OFM, Ph.D. will be the guest speaker. 

“We are very excited for this year’s annual Sr. Maura Smith Earth Day lecture, which takes place on actual Earth Day, April 22, this year,” said Vice President for Mission, Greg Baker, DMin. “Care for the earth is a critical concern of the Sisters of Mercy and an institutional priority for Mercyhurst University. The Sisters are actively engaged in advocating for environmental protection and green practices across our country and across the world.” 

Fr. Dan is a Franciscan friar of Holy Name Province in New York. He also teaches systematic theology and spirituality at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, where he is the Duns Scotus Professor of Spirituality. Fr. Dan was supposed to speak last year for the 50 annual Earth Day Lecture, but the Coronavirus pandemic stopped that from occurring. 

The lecture this year is titled “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Climate Justice: Urgent Explorations of Global Climate Change and the Consistent Ethic of Life.” There will be a particular emphasis on how climate change affects all life on Earth. However, the environment does not ever seem to be at the top of our priority list as there is so much chaos going on in the world today. Fr. Dan’s lecture will draw attention to the importance of taking care of the planet, both for us and for future generations. 

“Each year the Sr. Maura Smith Earth day lecture draws attention to some aspect of environmental sustainability and many recent lectures have been more scientific and practical in nature. Those of us who planned this lecture thought it would be valuable to step back and consider the moral and religious argument for why this is such a crucial issue. Issues of climate change and care for the earth are too often reduced to partisan political issues,” said Baker. Fr. 

Dan, a Franciscan priest, is a prominent Catholic theologian who has very publicly argued that climate change is the foremost life issue for Catholics and for all people. While sometimes people think that for Catholics to be pro-life means to focus on one or two specific moral issues, Fr. Dan expands what it means to be pro-life in ways that are very important.”

 If you are interested in attending the Earth Day Lecture, you must register beforehand at

 “We anticipate that many students, employees, alumni and friends of Mercyhurst will join to hear this gifted and engaging speaker address an issue that cannot be overstated. If we do not care for this vulnerable earth as the precious gift that it is, we will not be able to care about life in its other aspects,” Baker said.