Inspiring Bolivia’s next generation with Laudato Si’

August 4, 2020

Liliana Salazar Ruiz, second from the right, helps bring Laudato Si’ to life in September 2019 in Bolivia.

It wasn’t enough for Liliana Salazar Ruiz to educate herself about the life-changing power of Laudato Si’.

Liliana felt called to follow Pope Francis’ lead and share the document’s life-giving hope and joy with young people, those who can lead change now and well into the future.

“I consider that my formation and work commits me to join in the care of our common home that Pope Francis convokes to us through the encyclical Laudato Si’,” she said.

Liliana is an educational psychologist in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and teaches human-Christian formation at Universidad Católica Boliviana San Pablo.

Liliana Salazar Ruiz

She read Pope Francis’ encyclical as part of her recent training to become a Laudato Si’ Animator, regular people who take it upon themselves to learn how to become champions for Catholic action on climate change.

As Liliana experienced earlier this year, Animators from six continents unite weekly through Zoom calls to learn from experts on Laudato Si’ and the root causes of climate change.

They connect and grow spiritually through message board discussions and small group conversations. To finish their training, all of the Animators complete a final project that brings Laudato Si’ to life in their communities.

For her project, Liliana wrote a paper about Laudato Si’ and assigned reading the encyclical and writing a report on it as homework to one of her classes.
“[To live] Laudato Si’ is to take good actions, to take care of our common home that God has given all of us, and to be good stewards as we are pilgrims,” she said.
“It is important that our struggles and our concerns for this planet do not take away from us the joy of hope, faith and love.”

All 39 students in the class read the short book and were captivated by Pope Francis’ adoration of creation and his message to take action to protect our common home.

Liliana admitted to feeling at how enthralled the young people were with Pope Francis’ message.

“It was really very pleasing to know that it has awakened interest in a greater good, which is to assume responsibility for the care of everyone’s home,” she said.

As he wrote Laudato Si’ five years ago, Pope Francis was in tune to how much creation and the ongoing climate crisis mean to young people and how hungry they are for a cleaner and safer future.

“Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.” (LS 13)

Some of Liliana’s students were particularly impressed by the breadth of the encyclical. “[It] surprises me, the great emphasis he placed on the defense of nature, animal life and energy reforms,” one student wrote.

Liliana is hopeful that her students will now share Laudato Si’ with their friends, continuing to spread the community-changing messages.