The following story is written by Laudato Si’ Animator Arnaldo Ramirez, who used the COVID-19 lockdown as an opportunity to complete the Laudato Si’ Animator training. It didn’t take long for him to spring into action, leading activities that have increasingly involved his growing community.
I am Permanent Deacon Arnaldo Ramirez, Latin American referent of the Friends of St. Joan Antida movement of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of SJA. I belong to the parish of St. Catherine of Siena of the Archdiocese of the Most Holy Assumption of Paraguay.
One of the good things that the pandemic brought me, if I can say that, was the possibility of participating in the Laudato Si’ Animators online training. It was during the time when we were forced to stay at home as a protective measure, and since everything became virtual and I had a little time to spare, I was able to take the course. At first it was just to pass the time, but when I got a little deeper into it, I liked it and started to take the course seriously. So it was that, in October 2020, I was certified as a Laudato Sí Animator.
From that moment on, I began to mobilize, forming a group of young people called Laudato Si’, to talk about the Laudato Si’ encyclical on the care of our common home. In November of that same year, we planted 70 saplings with the youth in the chapel of St. Francis of Assisi. In 2021, I started a radio program on Saturday mornings called “Laudato Si’…the care of our common home”, seeking to make more people aware of the need to care for our planet and creation.
At the beginning of this year we began to include, in the pastoral plan of the seven chapels in my network, activities that seek to involve children, youth and adults through catechesis, seeking to create awareness about the care of the environment. We have worked in each of the chapels with various projects: cleaning the sidewalks, creating gardens and orchards, recycling, and much more.
Last month, we gathered to celebrate the Laudato Si’ Mass, giving thanks to God for the gift of creation as we concluded the first stage of our project on the care of our common home. On that festive occasion, we blessed the pets and plants brought by the families from the catechesis.
In the second stage of the project, we are thinking of expanding our efforts and reaching out to our neighbors. We want to go beyond our chapel, start cleaning our streets and vacant yards, and try to involve the community to multiply our efforts and maintain a clean and amicable environment.
I continue with the radio program Laudato Si’…the care of our common home on Fridays at 8 p.m., from my Facebook page LAUDATO SI-PY. This is how I became a more ecological person. What’s more, in my parish community everyone associates me with Laudato Si’.
Today my ecological conversion is much more committed to the ecosystem, to say that I no longer dare to kill even an ant, because I have discovered that they are also God’s creatures and I have come to understand St. Francis of Assisi and why he called creation his “brother”.