Our Laudato Si’ Animator training program has reached over 10,000 Animators who continually make a difference in their local communities. Participants feel strongly connected to the cadre of like-minded individuals that are scattered throughout the planet. Being a part of a global community that unites those who aim to care for our common home strengthens and motivates Animators to take a leadership role and join forces with those in their local communities.
This July, Laudato Si’ Movement took the training to Gallup, New Mexico, where participants of different ages and backgrounds rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty together! It was the first time that the training was conducted in-person in North America. Graduates are already working in various parts of their communities, utilizing their new tools and knowledge to improve existing projects and maximize the potential of “seedling projects” that are beginning to sprout.
North America Programs Coordinator Maria Treviño was thrilled with the training’s success. She noted that, after almost two years of pandemic-related lockdowns and isolation, the time had come to get out and embrace the opportunity to come together and interact about our shared experience. It was a chance to look for ways in which we can, as Catholics, contribute to improving and repairing this common home that we inhabit and that God created for us.
“Being in New Mexico allowed me to be part of the training for the new Laudato Si’ Animators. Their joy, hope and action to restore our common home reflect their great heart for others. Their generosity has allowed me to feel God’s love in each of them…Participants…had the opportunity to interact with us, live out the Laudato Si’ encyclical, and co-create projects…that strive to improve our environment and our common home.” -North America Programs Coordinator Maria Treviño
Africa Program Coordinator Br. Ben Ayodi, who has led other non-virtual trainings in Africa, brought his expertise and enthusiasm to this side of the ocean. Though he certainly had lots to offer, he also had a lot to learn from the native participants and their unique way of connecting with nature, gaining a new cultural perspective from this enriching experience.
“The Navajo prayer service led by local Franciscan friar Brother Maynard Shurley was exciting and unique. The symbolism used, including praying while facing the four corners of the world, the use of fire, water, incense, and traditional words of blessing, proved to me just how native people value and care about creation in their daily lives.”
“Native trees were planted with a collaborative effort that proved necessary in New Mexico’s harsh terrain. However, the more important seeds were planted in a metaphorical sense. Seeds of change were sewn as people from different backgrounds, who might otherwise not have had the chance to collaborate, were united with a common purpose. Among all of the division that plagues our world, we see time and time again how uniting to save our burning planet brings people together and multiplies their efforts, yielding powerful results that are greater than the sum of their parts.” -Africa Program Coordinator Br. Ben Ayodi
In addition to the 15 participants who became Laudato Si’ Animators, there were four children, who collaborated and enriched the training in their unique ways. Among other contributions, they did a project where they wrote the words of “Laudato Si'” in the Latin alphabet and also wrote in their native Navajo language. Their artistic rendering of the different participants, Jesus Christ, and creation beautifully illustrated how we’re all interconnected as brothers and sisters.
“Children, who are the future generations, must be part of this movement; of the reparation of our common home.” –Program Coordinator Maria Treviño
Laudato Si’ Animator Sister Monica Partac played a key role in making the training a success from its inception by providing the optimal location, Sacred Heart Retreat Center, where the training took place. Additionally, she promoted the course and took care of participants by preparing food and being an optimal host that made everyone feel at home. She and Brother Ben go back a long way!
Another integral component of this collaborative effort was special guest Sister Joan Brown, osf, who led an informative training module on “Seeing” (See-Judge-Act method), regarding the current local situation in New Mexico. Sr. Brown is a Laudato Si’ Animator and a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Rochester, Minnesota who has worked with Eco-Spirituality and Justice for decades. She is the Executive Director of New Mexico and El Paso Interfaith Power and Light which works to educate faith communities and individuals and call them to engagement and action around climate justice rooted in deep spiritual and religious traditions. Pope Francis, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and Thomas Berry, along with many others, inspire and infuse her work with communities in the New Mexico region.
“After the training with Maria and Fr. Ben here in Gallup, it really helps me to be consistent and to persevere in my little efforts for the care of our common home. I can actually say that my ecological conversion really started here when I was sent to the mission Home of our congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor here in Gallup. The cry of the earth for water and moisture which contributes to the cry of the poor really struck me and I am very much committed to the best of my ability and by the grace of our Creator God to communicate to all I know about the need to care for creation and to persevere in our LS Circle efforts as long as we can. Thank you.” -Sr. Theresa Louisa, l.s.p. (Little Sisters of the Poor)
“At a time when we, in New Mexico, have been witnessing devastating loss and suffering in local communities and the natural environment from intensifying drought and widespread wildfires, the invitation to attend an in-person Laudato Si’ Animators’ training program in Gallup came as an energizing wave for renewed commitment to actively care for our sacred Earth home.
We came together as concerned Catholics from diverse areas, including members from the Navajo parish communities of Tohatchi and Fort Defiance. With our Navajo sisters and brothers, we engaged in prayer, renewed study, reflection and discussion on the urgent call from Laudato Si’, also including our shared experiences of adverse health and environmental impacts from the intensifying climate crisis.
Drawing from wellsprings of our faith and love of God, as well as sacred Creation sustaining all life, we were renewed in hope and creatively envisioned ways to collaborate more closely, find more ways to care for our Earth home, shift from fossil fuels, address pollution, transition into just, renewable solar and wind energy,plant trees, regenerate the soil, listen to the creative ideas from the young, and continue needed climate crisis actions as we actively bring Laudato Si’ into life. Some of us are moving ahead with Earth care projects we envision.
Our grateful thanks to Maria and Brother Ben for the graced invitation to join the Laudato Si’ movement.” -Sr. Rose Marie Cecchini, Office of Peace, Justice & Creation Director, Catholic Charities of Gallup
Watch our interview with event organizers Maria Trevino & Br. Ben Ayodi:
Watch the interview with Maria in Spanish