photo by Evans E

Poland has some of the worst smog in the European Union, and the country’s air pollution caused more than 43,000 premature deaths in 2016 alone, according to estimates from the European Environment Agency.

But Anna Brzezińska-Hemperek is trying to change her home country and its heavy reliance on coal.

Brzezińska-Hemperek joined thousands of passionate people around the world earlier this year and became a Laudato Si’ Animator, champions for Catholic action on climate change.

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She took the free course in her native Polish, formed meaningful relationships with like-minded Poles, and completed a final project that took action for her local community.

(Laudato Si’ Animator training is also offered in English, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.)

Will you join her? Become a Laudato Si’ Animator and inspire your community

Brzezińska-Hempek also followed in the footsteps of Saint John Paul II, the former Bishop of Krakow who warned against human beings abusing creation throughout his papacy.

“Man often seems to see no other meaning in his natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption,” he wrote in his first papal encyclical. “Yet it was the Creator’s will that man should communicate with nature as an intelligent and noble ‘master’ and ‘guardian’, and not as a heedless ‘exploiter’ and ‘destroyer’.”

Below, Brzezińska-Hemperek talked about why wanted to become a Laudato Si’ Animator, what inspired her about the course, and what she plans to do with her new training.

What made you want to become a Laudato Si’ Animator?

I have been always looking for God in nature and interested in environmental problems. There were many ecological activities but I wanted to have such an activity in the Catholic Church and strongly connected with faith in God.

Why did you pick what you did for your final project? What was your goal of the project?

My idea was to start in our small local community. I live in a very beautiful part of our country in suburban district of a town. It’s full of green.

I have noticed some problems, which must be solved to have our district remain attractive and green.

The main goal is to change the way we think about how to use natural resources and to stop thinking that we should consume them mindlessly.

I wanted to provide some basic education that makes people change their approach on water consumption, waste production, electricity savings, etc.

Will you become a champion for action on climate change? Join her today!

How important is Laudato Si’ to you?

Current civilization has lost the approach of Saint Francis of Assisi.

We are responsible for people around us and the environment around us.

In the past few years, we have seen the manifestation of human pride in relation to the nature.

This should be changed. That is why Laudato Si’ is important for me.

What does Laudato Si’ mean to you?

Many people think that Earth is their property. It is always the property of God.

We are here only for the moment.

The Earth will be able to survive without human beings but people will be not able to survive in a destroyed environment.

Laudato Si’ means for me that people are not God. There is one God.

How has the Laudato Si’ Animator training equipped you to continue caring for creation?

Learning from experts and environmental leaders in the Laudato Si’ Animator training helped me to find new ideas of solving problems, to meet people thinking in the same way.