Sr. Dolores Lytle, CSA: Inspired to Action

Retired Sister Dolores Lytle, CSA, was inspired to action when she saw the announcement that Sister Dulce María Rodríguez López, CSA, had received her diploma in Laudato Si’ and Sustainable Development from the Universidad Centroamericana. Following Sister Dulce’s example, Sister Dolores sought out the Global Catholic Climate Movement and received recognition as a “Laudato Si’ Animator” in June of 2020.

Founded in January of 2015, the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) is a young non-profit that began its work six months before Pope Francis released his encyclical, Laudato Si’. In 2020, Laudato Si’ and GCCM both celebrated five years of coordinated efforts to care for God’s creation. During those five years, GCCM has been training people to be actively engaged in the work of Laudato Si’ by offering a “Laudato Si’ Animator” course among many other things.

Throughout the months of March, April and May, Sister Dolores attended several virtual classes, watched videos, participated in online discussion groups, submitted homework, and wrote reflections on what she was learning as she dove into the teachings of Laudato Si’ and connected it to her own life.

Growing up, Sister Dolores had spent time studying the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, as was required by the church at the time, and continued to take theology courses throughout her life to stay in touch with the ever changing ways of understanding theology, including Thomas Barry’s new cosmology. She found that this course took all of those teachings and brought them together in a way that created new understanding of how to see God in the world around her.

“Nobody had ever told me that when I see creation, trees, rivers, rocks, whatever, that creation is indeed God’s first self-expression…,” said Sister Dolores. “It was like all the things I’ve read and heard along the way, popped in together.”

The Latin root of the term “animate” is “anima,” meaning life or soul. Laudato Si’ Animators, like Sisters Dolores and Dulce, are charged with instilling life and soul into the message of Laudato Si’ and inspiring renewed vigor around caring for God’s creation.  When listening to the reports of the work of the Sisters of St. Agnes in Nicaragua, Sister Dolores said she recognized the impact that Sister Dulce’s certificate was having on the conversations about caring for creation.

While Sister Dulce is still actively engaged in ministry, Sister Dolores has been retired for some time and is finding ways to be an animator from her computer desk. She has started a Facebook page to create an annotated bibliography of Laudato Si’ Resource Materials for those who do presentations and public outreach and don’t have the luxury of spending hours finding the most up-to-date research or education materials. She is also encouraging others to participate in the class offered by GCCM.

The Laudato Si’ Animator class is open to any who want to come to a better understanding of Laudato Si’. Sister Dolores found that not only was the technology accessible and easy to navigate, but she left the experience feeling more hopeful, despite knowing that we are in the midst of a climate crisis. She believes that bringing the energy of the sacred to the acts of caring for creation is what will make climate activism sustainable.

Sister Dolores hopes to help others realize that when one believes that creation is God’s self-revelation, “…their connection with their own creator is going to grow… How do we worship our God by attending to God’s creation? … It is a shift that people who take this class are going to make in their society.”

— Dusty Krikau