Since the publication of his Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, On the Care for our Common Home, Pope Francis has raised a deep and general awareness of the wounds inflicted on the world, affectionately called “our Common Home” or “our sister”.

Today, because we have come to see ourselves as her Lord and masters, “this sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her” (Laudato Si, n°2). Consequently, our sister is agonising and the “common house” is degrading day after day, and millions of people are bearing the effects of these calamities. In response to this drama, Pope Francis called the whole Church and people of goodwill to stand up and “care for her”. Concretely, he called for a deep ecological conversion which involves an ecological spirituality, education and lifestyle.

In 2019, Father General, Arturo Sosa sent a letter to the whole Society of Jesus on The Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus 2019-2029. He defined the Universal Apostolic Preferences not only as a fruit of an election confirmed by Pope Francis, but also as “the best way [for the Society of Jesus], to collaborate in Lord’s mission, the best way to serve the Church at this time, the best contribution we can make with what we are and have, seeking to do what is the greater divine service and the more universal good”. Among the Universal Apostolic Preferences, figures out “The Care of our Common House”.

After hearing and appropriating this vibrant call from the Universal Church and the Society of Jesus, Hekima University College through various efforts, strives to implement it within its two campuses. In addition to what our institution has been doing regarding the cleanness of our workspace, the care for the poor and the needy through research and publication, plantation of more than 700 trees, we have made a great step this year by moving toward the Solarization of the college community.

Under the leadership of the Principal, Father Marcel Uwineza, SJ and his Staff in collaboration with the Jesuit Community under the leadership of the Rector, Father Deogratias Rwezaura, SJ and thanks to many benefactors, Hekima University College is 100% run by Solar Power. Both the undergraduate and the postgraduate campuses are covered by Solar power: it is a dream come true. This project has considerably reduced the amount of money that Hekima University College used to pay for government electricity bills. At the college level, we used to pay nearly $3000 per month and we are currently paying $35. We hope this will continue! We are no longer buying fuel for our college generators. This has also reduced pollution. Our students are occasionally unaware that our neighbors have power cuts. Needless to say that the Solarization process has its formation component, as students and faculty often learn by seeing. We have set aside a maintenance plan in case some technical challenges arise. We are indeed happy to be a Laudato Si’ University” and we are fulfilling one of the Society of Jesus’ Apostolic Preferences in concrete terms.

The challenges related to the “care of our common home” are global and we are aware that our efforts are small steps which might seem insignificant to some people. However, we are convinced that the ecological conversion and the deep change of life will never be effective ignoring the small steps that everybody can make in his or her daily life. That reminds us of the famous adage introduced in 1915 by the Scottish Patrick Geddes: “Think globally, act locally”. In other words, small steps made with perseverance and consistency lead to great steps. Lao Tseu would say that “the journey of a thousand miles always starts with a first step”.

May God bless all Hekima’s benefactors and all those who always support us in our mission. May God abundantly bless our leaders at Hekima University College so that they make this institution a place where the pursuit of intellectual excellence and wisdom is not only fostered but also achieved. May God help us to continue moving HUC from better to best for the glory of God.