Meet CAFOD Volunteer Thereza

During ‘National Volunteers’ Week’, we wanted to share a snapshot story about one of our wonderful volunteers in the Arundel and Brighton Diocese.

We recently interviewed CAFOD Parish and School Volunteer Thereza from St Dunstan’s Parish, Woking about her life and why she volunteers for CAFOD. Thereza has supported CAFOD for many years and has officially volunteered for us for over a year. She is a retired engineer.

How have you been involved with CAFOD?

I have known about CAFOD for over 40 years and have paid a monthly direct debit to CAFOD. For the last year since retirement, I am volunteering as a School Volunteer and Parish Volunteer. Previously, I supported CAFOD remotely by responding to CAFOD’s emergency appeals.

Do you have an affinity with a certain country and if you do, what is the connection?

I grew up in Bombay (now Mumbai), although my parents came from Goa where the family home remains. My maiden name is Lobo, which means wolf in Portuguese, and since my first name is Thereza (which means harvester of corn), you could say that I am a corny wolf!

From the age of ten, I had decided to be an engineer after watching the workmen carry out wiring and other repairs on our flat in Bombay.

What first attracted you to CAFOD?

I am a firm believer in the saying that “every little bit helps” and there are many ways to make a difference. I love helping charities at a time when there is so much need in the world. I have recently teamed up with Audra (Parish Volunteer) to help organise the various activities involved in being one of the CAFOD reps for the Parish.

Although organising events is not something previously I had much experience of, I have presented to many schools on the subject of engineering as part of my role as ‘Schools Ambassador’ at BAE Systems (previously British Aerospace).

Was there a particular story or experience you heard that inspired you?

I was first interested in supporting Sightsavers after my mother had cataract operations in the early 1960s. Later I started raising money (£19.5k) by running two tuckshops at my workplace to build two houses in India, Sightsavers’ mobile screening camps and funding for emergency disasters etc. I was later invited by Sightsavers to meet Joanna Lumley, Dennis Lawson and his sister Carol (who is Ewan McGregor’s mother) in London.

Tell me about what you’re doing for CAFOD today

I have been involved with the Thursday Club within my church since my retirement 6 years ago. This has involved arranging speakers from different organisations to come to speak about such things as butterflies, Victorian christmases, chocolate making etc. Monies raised from these talks have been shared among our chosen charities including CAFOD. I have supported fundraising for CAFOD such as cake sales, organised Fast Day appeals, spoken at our Creation Mass celebrations, helped with obtaining seed packets kindly donated from Wisley for distribution, supported the parish volunteer with christmas fairs, international Masses, and Petitions to the Prime Minister which involved our local MP, Jonathan Lord. I have also helped to distribute CAFOD World Gift magazines and encouraged parishioners to buy World Gifts.

Recently, I started conducting workshops in schools which has unfortunately been interrupted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Why is what you’re doing today important?

I like the idea that CAFOD aims to provide for sustainable projects for all faiths in overseas locations so that the local people can become independent, despite floods etc., be they as a result of climate change or natural disasters.

If you were to meet someone who has been supported by a CAFOD project, what would you ask them?

Would you encourage and help your friends and neighbours to follow in your footsteps?

How has your faith motivated you?

I believe that every human being should be given a helping hand including refugees and other migrants amongst the disadvantaged.

What challenges have you faced in your life and how have you overcome them?

I studied science and had to catch up with physics, chemistry and biology within eight months, in order to sit my O Level general science exam. However, when I told my head­mistress and mother that I wanted to become an engineer, they both considered it completely “un-lady like”. So instead I went on to study applied physics at university where I was the only female in the year. I soon discovered employment opportunities in the industry were unavailable to me as employers quite openly told me that they would not employ women because they went on to get married and have children! Fortunately, things have changed, although positive discrimination also has its negative connotations. I have had to constantly tell line managers that I did not want to accept a promotion simply because I was a woman, but because they thought I was the best person for the post.

I hope that I can inspire women to become scientists and to strive for equality.

We found Thereza to be an inspirational, resilient woman and she so geneously gives of her time to support Audra in her parish as CAFOD Volunteer. She is also inspiring others in her community to volunteer for CAFOD too. Thank you Thereza for all that you do to support CAFOD.

If you are interested in volunteering for CAFOD have a look at our website and see if any of the roles would interest you. CAFOD volunteers are the bloodstream of CAFOD.

WE NEED YOU. Find out more by clicking the link below.

‘Plant Giveaway’ in memory of the late Pete Kelly

The late Pete Kelly from St Edmund’s Parish Godalming, was the inspiration behind the livesimply ‘Plant Swap’ weekends, and in his honour the parish organised a small-scale ‘Plant Giveaway’ as a special way to remember him and mark the day of his parish Requiem Mass and Crematorium service of committal on Wednesday 27 May. This was organised by Janet Quinlan.

The plants were set out in St Joseph’s car park. Parishioners were asked to come at whatever time suited them to find themselves a souvenir plant to take home and plant in their gardens in memory of Pete.

The plants ranged from wild strawberries, lettuces, annual seedlings, tree peonies and euphorbias to tomato plants, squash and pumpkin plants.

They were reminded to bring a box/tray to take away their plants and remember to observe social distancing at all times if their visit coincided with other parishioners.The ‘Plant Giveaway’ continued throughout the week and the following weekend.

Pete’s widow Mary told us how this wonderful idea came about.

‘Pete had planted so many seeds of various plants this year and was very excited about the Plant Swap at Church. When he got sick, I wasn’t sure how I would look after so many plants and ensure they were planted out at the right time to bring them on to the next stage. I did my best and when my daughter Aisling came home, we did it together. I was so pleased to hear about Janet’s idea as it meant his lovely plants would not go to waste as there was no way I was going to use them all!! So, yesterday afternoon we loaded up the car and took them to the church. Aisling labelled all the plants and put a brief description on the crates of how to plant the various plants, as her Dad would have done.

I hope people enjoy them in his memory. The plants he planted were – leeks, red cherry tomatoes, yellow cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, brussel sprouts, green beans, pumpkins, peas, rosemary, sage, sweetcorn, cucumber, chilli peppers, sweet peppers and many more.’

St Edmund’s Parish has recently registered on the journey to become a Live Simply Parish. Should you require further details click on the link below.

CAFOD Arundel and Brighton would like to thank Mary Kelly for allowing us to share this story. We hope it will inspire other people.

May Pete rest in peace.

Bognor Regis Parish Volunteers complete 10 ‘lockdown’ marathons to fundraise for charity

CAFOD Volunteers, Colin and Gabrielle Thorpe from The Catholic Parish of Bognor Regis and Slindon have clocked up over 300 miles on their daily walks in order to raise funds for the global coronavirus response.

Since lockdown began, Colin and Gabrielle have been totting up their daily exercise miles to complete a massive charity challenge: walking the equivalent distance of Bognor Regis to Canterbury Cathedral.

The couple hope their 300-mile journey will help them reach their fundraising target – all in aid of the international development charity, CAFOD, who have just launched a global coronavirus appeal.

Colin said: “Since lockdown began, Gabrielle and I have both walked three to four miles every day, and have decided to turn this daily activity into a prayerful exercise and fundraiser to help CAFOD support some of the poorest people in the world.

“Currently, we have each walked 100 miles and aim to reach 150 miles by the end of six weeks of lockdown. Please join us in helping to raise £1,000 to feed and support some of the world’s poorest people.”

Colin and Gabrielle’s chosen charity, CAFOD, has recently launched an emergency coronavirus appeal and is scaling up its support to local aid experts. These local experts are providing food to vulnerable families, as well as improving handwashing and sanitation facilities across communities.

CAFOD is also helping churches in developing countries use their networks to share hygiene messages through Catholic radio stations, and to produce posters in local dialects on infection prevention.

Donate to Colin’s challenge at and find out more about CAFOD’s work at

Story by Elouise Hobbs, CAFOD Regional News Officer