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Myanmar Catholic Church
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Laudato Si Animators Trained in Myanmar

From January 31 - February 3, 2019 (CRCM, Yangon, Myanmar), the Global Catholic Climate Movement - Myanmar (GCCM - Myanmar) hosted a three-day training of trainors workshop on Laudato Si entitled, “Deepening Journey into Laudato Si’ Symposium - Laudato Si Animators’ Training” developed by Global Catholic Climate Movement - Pilipinas (GCCM-Pilipinas). This symposium is designed to raise awareness on the urgency to respond to the call of Laudato Si - to care for our common home.

 Before the actual training workshop began, the participants and the resource persons visited a social enterprise called Chu Chu (which means plastic in Burmese). The center and production facility is a house made of recycled bottles and tires. It is located in Dala Township across the Irrawaddy River. Daw Cecilia Wendy, a Catholic woman manages the center with 4 young creative workers. They produce a wide - variety of products made from recycled packaging materials and other waste materials. They buy these materials from waste pickers around the city of Yangon.

 The team of trainors was composed of Fr. John Leydon, John Din, Arlene Villahermosa and Sr. Elizabeth Carranza, members of GCCM - Pilipinas. Their primary goal is to promote Pope Francis encyclical ‘Laudato Si. The symposium itself is a modification of the Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream symposium of Pachamama Alliance (2005) by incorporating Laudato Si. The symposium is a 4-5 hour presentation and reflection on the ecological, socio-political  and spiritual crisis of our time. At the end of the symposium participants are empowered with hope to commit themselves to care for our common home by signing the Laudato Si Pledge.

’The three-day training  is aimed at creating animators and facilitators of the symposium to generate not only awareness but also multiply the number of persons able to facilitate and give the symposium thereby getting the message to more and more individuals and organizations.

 The training was divided into two parts - the actual presentation of the symposium and the practicum where the group was divided into six smaller groups and each group presented and facilitated the different parts of the symposium. Many of the participants found it challenging because of the language but most of the groups were able to present their parts well. There was great excitement and some anxiety before the presentation but also energy before and after the presentation.

 A cultural night followed after dinner. The different tribes of Myanmar presented their dances to the delight of the everyone - Burmese, Kachin, Kayin-Kayah, Chin but also the Filipinos, Irish and Chinese. And to end the night a Manau dance was led by the Kachin participants. The night captured the vision of the symposium to bring different peoples to work together for our common home.

 The following day, an action planning session was conducted. Mr. Roger Barelli (Fondacio) and Fr. Jerome Langh, OFM, GCCM - Myanmar co-coordinators facilitated the core - group. While Fr. Kurt Zion Pala, SSC the GCCM - Myanmar animator facilitated the diocesan representatives. The GCCM Myanmar core group decided to conduct a symposium for students from the different English learning institutions around Yangon. They also will host an Earth Hour on March 2019. The diocesan group highlighted the need for a Burmese translation of the symposium materials to be able to effectively deliver the message of the symposium to the audience. Some diocesan representatives will also give a symposium to some English speaking institutions particularly in Mandalay. In the diocese of Myitkyina, a possibility is to give the symposium to the catechetical school.

 The participants come from different backgrounds. There were thirteen lay people (8 women, 5 men), fourteen religious women, one brother and six priests. They represented different organizations like the Myanmar Ecclesia of Women in Asia (MEWA), Karuna Mission Social Solidarity (KMSS) and Catholic Artists’ Association in Myanmar (CCA); thirteen religious congregations (IJ, MSP, RGS, FCJ, OFM, ZSLF, RNDM, SCCG, MS, FMM, Sacred Heart, SSC, MSSC); dioceses (Yangon, Mawlamyine, Hpa-an, Mandalay, Myiktyina, Pyay, Lashio and Taunggyi);  learning institutions like Myanmar Institute for Religious Studies (MIRS) and Pyinya Sanyae Institute of Education (PSIE); and finally lay movements like the Columban lay missionaries, Fondacio and Focolare. The training was supported by the Missionary Society of St. Columban through the Myanmar Mission Unit.

 Global Catholic Climate Movement - Myanmar is the local chapter of the global movement GCCM. The chapter was formally launched last September 2017 at the RGS Hall, Yangon with the Auxiliary Bishop of Yangon Bishop John Saw Yawhan to respond to the call of Pope Francis to hear the cry of the poor and of the Earth. GCCM - Myanmar aims to promote Laudato Si in all levels of the Church  particularly the vulnerable groups, children, the youth and the parish through various activities and programs in Myanmar.

 Myanmar is among the top ten countries vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. Extractive industries like mining and logging destroyed most of the forest cover of Myanmar. There is also the threat of the planned building of a dam up north of the country which would mean the lost of a large expanse of land affecting communities. Cardinal Charles Bo recently published a letter calling for the protection of the Irrawaddy River which runs the entire length of the country. The letter’s title is “"Stop Trafficking Our Mother Irrawaddy" a reminder that the river is not a commodity but our mother. In the letter the Cardinal referred to the river as “the sacred mother of every Myanmar people.” The proposed Myitsone dam according to the cardinal is the “death sentence to the people of Myanmar.”

 The proposed dam will affect the people of Kachin State and the wider part of Myanmar which would flood twice the size of Singapore and have significant impact downstream as the river is the lifeblood of the country according to a report.

2019-03-04 00:46:50