A Greener Tomorrow 2

By Chioma Okoye

A Greener Tomorrow

Mary Help of Christians Center in Tampa joins the Don Bosco Green Alliance.

Caption: Students from Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School spend time outside near a newly planted live oak tree.


September 14, 2022 | Over 130 new trees were planted across Mary Help of Christians Center’s 140-acre property in Tampa to answer Pope Francis’ call to care for the planet in his encyclical Laudato Si’. The proactive initiative is part of the Don Bosco Green Alliance where efforts are made for environmental improvements at local Salesian churches across the world. 

The Mary Help of Christians campus opened in 1928 as an orphanage for boys by the Salesians of Don Bosco. The property now contains a parish, a high school, summer camp facilities, and a retreat center. The goal is to evangelize and educate all people, especially those who are young and in need. 

Students and administrators are now on a mission to improve the grounds and create a culture of caring for creation in large and small ways. 

Father Franco Pinto, S.D.B., Director of Mary Help of Christians Center in Tampa, says that although he will never see the trees fully grown, he is happy future generations will be able to benefit from them. 

“I may never see the fruits of my labor, but I did not plant these trees for myself. There’s a beauty in the charity that comes from an act of love like this for our young people, not just from me, but from everyone at Mary Help, and where love and charity are, there God also is,” he said. “We want our young people to know that we love and care for them and their futures.” 

Some of the benefits provided by the new trees include shade for the structures on campus that creates a cooler interior environment, as well as more oxygen and less carbon dioxide that creates better air quality.

In addition to the trees, the campus has pledged to replace foam coffee cups with paper cups that are unbleached, recyclable, and eco-friendly and are working to replace all lights with LED lighting.

“Although these are just a few changes, we will continually respond to future environmental needs as part of creating a better and greener tomorrow,” said Father Pinto. 

“We not only strive to show our young people that we love them, but we also want to inspire them to love their neighbors and their environment in the same way. We want them to be aware that their surroundings are a gift,” said Terrie Dodson-Caldevilla, Director of Communications and Public Relations at Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School.

Father Pinto encourages everyone to learn more about the Don Bosco Green Alliance and to find out how they can get involved in caring for creation in both small and large ways by visiting: https://www.donboscogreen.org/home.

Father Franco Pinto, S.D.B., stands in front of a new live oak tree that was planted at Mary Help of Christians Center recently. (Photo by Teresa Peterson)

A Statue of Jesus welcomes visitors to the campus of Mary Help of Christians Center.


Chioma Okoye is Director of Communications at Mary Help of Christians Center.