After a 27-year career with the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington DC, Jamal Kadri and his wife, Kate, knew he would need something to keep him busy, but also help him find meaning in retirement. His wife learned about IVC, and Jamal joined the Corps in the fall of 2018. DC/Metro Regional Director, Mike Goggin, had been working to fill a placement at the Catholic Climate Covenant (CCC), and the match and timing seemed to be Spirit-made!
Jamal’s time with the EPA’s National Estuary Program brought him in contact with colleagues whose work took on an almost religious aspect. “The people I worked with at EPA invested a lot of their spiritual energy in careers dedicated to better environmental outcomes, and so the idea of integrating spirituality and service with IVC seemed to be a natural fit for me. The work at the Covenant really resonates with me, and I also really enjoy getting to know the staff. It’s great to be a part of a national campaign to encourage care for creation and build momentum to have the church embrace Laudato Si’.”
Prior to COVID, Jamal volunteered at CCC two days a week in the office, helping to write grants and to research and develop curricula for Catholic schools nationwide to integrate Laudato Sí into their educational plans. Now that things are getting up and running again, he hopes to continue his service work, but most of it will be online now. That’s because, as he shares: “COVID was my cannonball! When our children’s schools closed, we moved to my in-laws’ 350-acre farm in central New Jersey. Normally, three brothers—one of whom is a large animal vet — come from Ecuador every spring to help with the cows and pigs and chickens, but… in the spring of 2020…they couldn’t travel! We had a crash course in regenerative agriculture and eventually decided to sell our home in DC and relocate to the farm! Talk about a change!”
During the pandemic, Jamal was able to connect with the IVC community in DC/Metro through FaceTime and Zoom meetings. “Fr. Harry Geib, SJ, my spiritual reflector, has been a great support to me with all our life changes going on. We’ve been meeting regularly online to read Laudato Sí chapter-by-chapter and to discuss how to integrate the Pope’s message into daily life. Of course, like everyone else, I’ve missed our regular meetings, and hope to participate in some of the retreats and get-togethers with my fellow IVC volunteers when we start meeting again in person.”
When asked for advice about how each of us can make a difference in caring for the earth, Jamal had this to share: “Invest some real energy and time into learning about and doing things that push the needle in the right direction. It’s better to do more work towards things that are really tangible and good rather than just trying to do less of the things we know are bad for the environment. It is important for each of us to play a role.” He suggests, “Plant native trees and plants in your yard. Consider composting. Start growing your own food. Connect and support local farmers. Advocate on a local and state level. I also encourage people to reach out to the Catholic Climate Covenant. If your parish has a Creation Care Team, participate; if not, start one! The Covenant offered some great resources, including a small grant program. And don’t underestimate the importance of a dedicated spiritual community like IVC. It’s invaluable to have the camaraderie of like-minded people committed to justice and the hard work it demands.”