With the crunch of the gravel underneath her feet, Gabrielle Cardenas walks on the trail near her grandma’s house. With the sky clear and a slight breeze flowing through the palo verde trees, she takes in the view that she’s seen her entire life.

“I’ve lived in Tucson my whole life, but my family has been here for the past four generations,” she said. “Where my great grandparents lived was in the Mission Manor neighborhood.”

But around that area, the environmental issues grew around them.

“In the 1970s and ’80s, they discovered that there were pollutants taking place there that impacted the community,” she said.

The pollutants were found to be the cause of lupus in her aunt and cancer for her uncle, she said.

“He was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 3,” she said. “And their two other siblings have gotten health problems as they’ve gotten older.”

It’s lead her to be a passionate advocate for the environment, even speaking at a panel at the Newman Center with the Diocese of Tucson’s Bishop Edward Weisenburger on March 18.

“It’s exciting to know that my religious leader is stepping forward,” she said.

Last October, Pope Francis released the Laudate Deum, a document that called on people to take care of the poor and the environment.

“God entrusted us to steward on his behalf this beautiful garden,” Weisenburger said.

Just a few months after the Laudate Deum was released, Weisenburger went with other bishops and religious to the White House. They advocated for the Environmental Protection Agency’s new pollution limiting rules. They pushed for the finalization of the new rules on methane, carbon pollution from power plants, soot pollution and emission standards for heavy-duty vehichles by the end of April 2024.

“EPA did enact new the new pollution limiting rules on methane and soot levels,” he said.

At the Newman Center event, Weisenburger was honored for his work.

“Some small children had brought me a beautiful drawing that they had done,” he said.

And the Diocese of Tucson is implementing more solar panels and other sustainable methods to its parishes.

“He or she must do what they can do,” Weisenburger said. “At St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, their school has extensive solar implementation. St. John the Evanglist on the south side of Tucson has solar panels everywhere.”

Because it’s about leaving the Earth healthy and strong.

“we need to cast out fear which makes us strong and loving and we will respond this crisis of ecology,” he said.