Oblate Parish Cleans Up Streets for Earth Day

Oakland, CA

Text and photos By Fr. Jack Lau, OMI

The volunteers in prayer

As the parishioners of Sacred Heart Oakland and Pax Christi North California prepared to go out into the Longfellow Neighborhood in North Oakland, we gathered for an interfaith prayer in front of the Hiroshima Peace Garden @ Sacred Heart. This garden is an oasis of peace for the wider community. We collected over 300 gallons of trash not including tires and larger items that were dumped in our neighborhood.

(Scroll down to see all the photos from the day followed by a “Prayer for Peace”)

Interning at Sacred Heart, Sch. Bro, Moses Khisa, OMI participated in the day
The real work begins
Fr. Jack (R) confers with a volunteer
Amazing what just a handful of volunteers can achieve


Earth Day @ Sacred Heart

20 April, 2024

“A Prayer for Peace”

Land Acknowledgment:

Let us remember that the land we worship on and live in is sacred. We acknowledge the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe on who’s ancestral and unceded land we gather on. May we care for it as it was and continues to be cared for by the Muwekma Ohlone Peoples.  


As we gather on Earth Day 2024 at “The Hiroshima Peace Garden at Sacred Heart” on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and 40th.  “We must set up a cooperative relationship with the Earth, not one of dominance, for it is ultimately the gift of life that we pass on to our children and the generations to follow”.

(Rosalie Bertell, Planet Earth — The Latest Weapon of War. Dr Bertell was awarded the IPB’s Sean MacBride Peace Prize in 2001)

Dominance/Dominion is the bully on the street, not the divine directive. 

Dominance/Dominion is a failed relationship and simply put, it is oppression.

Dominance/Dominion is a false reality that brings forth suffering and pain to both perpetrator and the victim.

“For it would be a mistake to view other living beings as mere objects subjected to arbitrary human domination” (LSi#82)

For rather than separation and segregation, “we tread the same Earth, breathe the same air, and drink the same water. We share one common home, the Earth, and it is the only home we have. (Al-Mizan,1.3) 

So let us ground ourselves and be rooted to Mother Earth, with each other and conscious of our Oneness in the Radical Nature of the Divine SELF.

(Together we pray -From the Taittiriya Upanishad)

May the Lord of day grant us peace.     May the Lord of night grant us peace.

May the Lord of sight grant us peace.     May the Lord of might grant us peace.

May the Lord of speech grant us peace.     May the Lord of space grant us peace.

I bow down to the Source of all power.     I will speak the truth and follow the law of life.

Guard me and my teachers against all harm.     Guard me and my teachers against all harm.

Om Shanti, Shalom, Salaam, Peace. 

(What other languages do you know for the word “Peace”- Please say the word loud and lets all repeat it)

History of the Hiroshima Peace Garden at Sacred Heart

The Peace Garden @ Sacred Heart took shape during the pandemic and the Hiroshima Tree/ the Hibakujumoku 被爆樹木, which is a Camphor tree, originally from the Kōryū-ji Temple was received on the 6th of January, 2020 during the insurrection in Washington. It was and is a harbinger of peace in the midst of uncertainty, noise and violence. This tree, these peace roses and peace poles stand tall in the midst of fear and violence and calls forth peace and greater understanding. Countless passerbys stop, look, and may even sit down to rest or find a moment to contemplate and lift up a prayer.

Peace is Flowing Like a River (Song)

Peace (Joy, Hope, Peace) Is Flowing Like A River,  Flowing out of You And Me  
Flowing  out into The Desert, Setting All The Captives Free.          

Dr. King and the Environment 

 “All Life is Interrelated”: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Environmental Justice Legacy – The National Wildlife Federation Blog (nwf.org) 

Former Attorney General Eric Holder said, Dr. King “helped to plant the seeds for what would become our nation’s now-thriving environmental justice movement.”

Dr. King said “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” (Christmas Sermon 1967).

Think about Flint Michigan where a black community paid higher rates for lead contaminated water.

Think of Cancer Row Louisianna where rates of cancer caused by air pollution exceed the federal government‘s risk. And here in Oakland where “Air pollution disproportionately affects BIPOC children living in neighborhoods near the Port of Oakland and the Richmond Chevron Refinery. “1 in 2 new childhood asthma cases were due to traffic-related air pollution.” (The Air is Cleaner On The Other Side of Town: Environmental Justice in the East Bay | East Bay Community Foundation (ebcf.org)

Martin would stand with the people of Flint, the People in Cancer Row Louisianna and the Children of Oakland and call forth the injustice.

For we  are one people – united with all of creation as One Integral Being, for when “we fail to see that some are mired in desperate and degrading poverty, with no way out, while others have not the faintest idea of what to do with their possessions, vainly showing off their supposed superiority and leaving behind them much waste….if we continue to tolerate that some consider themselves more human than the other, as if they had been born with greater rights”, (LSi#90) what world we leave to our children, grandchildren and to the 7th Generation?

So, let’s make a difference here on the corner of MLK and 40th and Let us go forth into Our community bring forth Light, Hope and Peace, Singing “This Little Light of Mine”

This little light of mine I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine I’m gonna to let it shine
This little light of mine I’m gonna to let it shine, Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

Cleaning up the neighborhood I’m gonna let it shine

Cleaning up the neighborhood I’m gonna let it shine

Cleaning up the neighborhood I’m gonna let it shine, Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

Working with each other I’m gonna let it shine

Working with each other I’m gonna let it shine

Working with each other I’m gonna let it shine, Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine