By Dave Jolivet
ATTLEBORO, Mass. — In Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, he states in No. 87, “When we can see God reflected in all that exists, our hearts are moved to praise the Lord for all His creatures and to worship Him in union with them.”
It’s the heart of God connected to the heart of man and the heart of nature that is our existence on this earth. So it’s no wonder that the recent exhibit at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette “came from the heart.”
The event running from April 30 to May 14 is titled, “A Photographic Exhibition and Meditative Journey Through Pope Francis’ ‘On the Care of Our Common Home.’”
The exhibit includes 50 breathtaking photographs of Creation in all its beauty, accompanied by a Bible quote, mostly from the Psalms, and a quote from Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’.
“The photographer is Dr. Karl M. Zuzarte, a native of India, and a chief cardiologist in Fall River,” explained La Salette Father Cyriac Mattathilanickal, retreat director at the Attleboro shrine. “I am a patient of his and a few years back I noticed some of his photographs gracing his office and was very impressed with his side profession.”
It was that relationship of a heart doctor and a heart patient that brought forth the exhibit praising God and all His wondrous works.
When Pope Francis released Laudato Si’, Father Cyriac wanted to provide people with a way to reflect on the pope’s words along with seeing God’s Creation in front of their eyes.
“I talked to Dr. Zuzarte about using some of his photography to compliment Scriptural references to Creation and the words of Pope Francis,” explained Father Cyriac. “Dr. Zuzarte is a Catholic and very in tune with what the pope released and he readily agreed to be a part of the exhibit.”
In 2005 Dr. Zuzarte began to fulfill his passion for photography by traveling the world shooting mostly nature and wildlife scenes.
Father Cyriac and La Salette Father Flavio Gillio, also an avid photographer, developed if you will, the exhibit along with Holy Union Sister Mary Jean Audette, who helped select the Bible quotes.
“We sorted through about 3,000 photographs to come up with the 50 that appear in the exhibit,” Father Cyriac told The Anchor. “The main reason for the display was to promote respect for Creation. To have in one’s mind and heart the beauty of Creation. It’s all there. The photographs and the quotes make you think. It was a show-and-tell exhibit on Creation.”
“The response was very good right from the start,” Father Flavio told The Anchor. “Nearly 300 people were there for the opening.”
“The theme of reconciliation with nature is very similar to the La Salette charism of reconciliation,” added Father Syriac.
Visitors to the exhibit were able to obtain a copy of an October 2009 edition of the “La Salette America,” magazine themed, “Reconciling Ourselves with God’s Good Earth,” published a good six years before Laudato Si’. The contents of that issue included: “Ecology as a Way of Seeing: the Lord’s is the Earth and the Fullness thereof”; “Coloring Our Earth Green: A Passing Fad or a Call From God?”; “Finding Common Ground in Caring for Nature”; “Religious Lands Conservancy: Who Shall Inherit the Land?”; and La Salette and Ecology: Reconciling Ourselves with God’s Good Earth.”
The official exhibit concludes on May 14 with a Day of Prayer, “On care of our common home; Laudato Si’ of Pope Francis.” The day will include walking the beautiful trails on the shrine grounds, visiting the photo exhibit, reflections on the encyclical and prayer.
“When the exhibit is over, the photographs and readings will remain on display in the welcome center,” Father Cyriac told The Anchor. “People will still be able to come in and make the connection between God and His Creation through the words and pictures.”
The brilliant photographs are for sale to the general public with all the proceeds going to shrine and its many ministries.
Father Cyriac also told The Anchor that he and Father Flavio are offering retreats centered around Laudato Si’ and some of the photography. “We will be traveling to parishes that request our presence, for a day of reflection on God and His Creation,” explained Father Cyriac. “We want to present an awareness of the importance of caring for this earth and all its inhabitants.
“The format will be up to the parish that we visit. It could be a full day of reflection, a half-day, or whatever the parish would like. It can also be on just about any day of the week as well.”
Parishes interested in bringing Fathers Flavio and Cyriac and their Laudato Si’ “Show and tell” retreat to their location are encouraged to contact Father Cyriac at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 508-236-9020 or 860-208-0240.
Dr. Zuzarte’s website is karlzuzarte.com.
Some of the 50 breathtaking nature photographs taken by Dr. Karl M. Zuzarte that adorn the walls of the concert hall at La Salette Shrine in Attleboro for a “Photographic Journey Exhibition and Meditative Journey Through Pope Francis’ ‘On the Care of Our Common Home.’ After the exhibit, the photos and readings will be permanantly displayed in the shrine’s welcome center. (Photos by Dave Jolivet)