Cyclones in Paradise

*Photo: Rough seas produced by the remnants of Cyclone Winston along the shores of Gold Coast, Queensland.

Every week during the Season of Creation, we're bringing you stories of how climate change impacts vulnerable communities around the world. After each story we invite you to complete three activities: one to learn more, one to pray, and one to act.

From September 1st (the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation) to October 4th (the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi), Christians around the world celebrate the Season of Creation. This “time for creation” offers, in the words of Pope Francis, “individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation.” 

This week we travel to Fiji.


Just days after Fiji became the first country in the world to formally approve the Paris climate agreement, Cyclone Winston devastated the island. The most intense storm in the Southern Hemisphere left tens of thousands homeless. In the village of Veidrala, most residents make their living through coconut farming and fishing. In Veidrala, the cyclone left only five homes standing and destroyed all the coconut trees. Columbans accompanied the community in the aftermath to help rebuild homes, farms, and lives. The people of Veidrala continue to recover. Climate change increases the severity and frequency of storms such as Winston, which in turn increases the impacts that islands such as Fiji are forced to face.

Lani Tamatawale of Fiji is a Columban lay missionary. “You may think living in Fiji is like a tropical paradise, but we are affected by climate change,” she says. In this podcast, Lani describes the experience of one village that was hit by two floods in a short period of time. Listen to this podcast by clicking here to hear how climate change is destroying Lani’s home. 

Find some time this week to go into nature. Maybe some woods or a nearby lake. As you center yourself in the presence of God in creation, call to mind the island of Fiji and the story you heard this week. How does it make you feel? What is it calling you to do? You may choose to write these reflections down in a prayer journal. End your time by reciting this prayer to yourself three times.

The carbon emissions we each produce, our “carbon footprint,” contribute to human-caused climate change. We can reduce our carbon footprint by reducing our consumption. This helps lessen the future impacts of climate change. 

But before you can reduce your carbon footprint, you have to know what it looks like. Calculate your carbon footprint by using this free carbon calculator.