by Jonathon Braden | Sep 30, 2021 | Blog, News and Updates | 0 comments
“It makes me very happy to see that young people have the courage to undertake projects for environmental and social improvement, since the two go together.”
When His Holiness mentioned those words, he could have very well shared the accomplishments of Elizabeth Baquita Bosco Ximenes of Timor Leste in the same sentence.
Ximenes is doing exactly what Pope Francis loves to see young people do throughout the world: She is undertaking projects for environmental and social improvement and working to tackle the climate crisis.
In their Southeast Asian island nation of Timor Leste, with a population of 1.4 million people, Ximenes and friends have helped more than 400 young people become Laudato Si’ Animators, champions for bringing Laudato Si’ to life in their communities.
WATCH: The Pope Video for September 2021
Through a free six-week training program, Animators learn about the root problems of the climate crisis and how Laudato Si’ can serve as a blueprint for caring for our common home and reversing the climate crisis.
Ximenes and fellow Laudato Si’ Animator Dircia Belo are leading the overwhelmingly young and Catholic country in caring for God’s creation and the most vulnerable among us.
“I believe through learning about Laudato Si’s teaching, [we] can solve the problems in our country, like environmental issues, ecological crisis and also climate change,” Ximenes said.
Timor Leste has had little to do with the greenhouse gas emissions scientists say are causing the climate crisis, yet the country is set to bear the worst effects of the climate crisis, such as rising sea levels and more extreme weather, including stronger hurricanes.
Already, about 40 percent of the country lives below the poverty line. Policy experts have predicted that the climate crisis will lead to more poverty if additional measures aren’t taken because extreme weather, such as longer droughts and stronger hurricanes, can push people into poverty.
But Timor Leste is also a youthful country full of hope for a better tomorrow. The country’s median age is 20, and 4 in 10 of its citizens are below the age of 15. Ximenes and other young Laudato Si’ Animators are leading the way and showing the young country that a better future can await.
“I want to work with my friends, my other youth to bring the message of Laudato Si’ to others. I want to proclaim this message and help people bring Laudato Si’ to their lives,” Ximenes said.
She and Belo have started a Timor Leste Laudato Si’ Animators Youth Group to encourage others to become Laudato Si’ Animators and lead their communities.
“We need community to proclaim this message, to solve the problems that Pope Francis has raised to all people,” Ximenes said, echoing Pope Francis in his encyclical letter Laudato Si’.
To Ximenes, at the core of solving the climate crisis is the ecological conversion that Pope Francis calls all people to undergo in Laudato Si’.
“So what they all need is an ‘ecological conversion,’ whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (LS 217).
Read more: What is an ecological conversion?
“It’s really touched me and I have learned more about ecological conversion because it’s how I can make a good connection with the environment and also all the creatures on this Earth,” Ximenes said.
Most nights, she spends time working on her ecological conversion. She meditates before bed, thanking God for the Lord’s creation and praying for nature.
Ximenes also reflects on her favorite passages from Laudato Si’, such as the theme of Laudato Si’ Week 2021, “For we know that things can change” (LS 13).
She takes action for our common home as well. Together with other Laudato Si’ Animators, Ximenes has made recycling bins for others, planted trees, and most importantly, spread Pope Francis’ message of hope and urgent action in Laudato Si’.
“We want to invite all people to know about Laudato Si’,” she said.
Take Action: Become a Laudato Si’ Animator
More about Laudato Si’ Animators and Laudato Si’
Jonathon Braden has more than 10 years of writing and communications experience. He seeks to tell LSM’s story.