It has been an interesting year. There have been many needs, but much love and dedication shown in response. Here is just a small flavour.
The Justice and Peace Assembly in January welcomed Fr Augusto Zampini to speak about Laudato Si’ where he entertained, inspired and challenged people incredibly well for a tiny bit longer than expected.
Lent Fast Day in March focussed on our work in Zambia and Florence and her Fish. Schools in particular enjoyed the theme. Our diocese really got behind the appeal with many soup lunches, collections and events in support (too many to mention each individually).
In July Fr Peter Hughes from the Columbans inspired us with a talk in Weybridge about their work and that of the church in Peru. Sadly also in July, Jo Lewry’s time with us in this office came to an end, but fortunately she is still with us working in the Portsmouth diocese and volunteering in her parish in Godalming.
We also celebrated 30 years of cake-baking by Elizabeth Wallace in Woking and an estimated £35,000 raised. What incredible dedication! We also had the 5th annual sponsored push by the two Michaels in Hastings. There were too many parish events to mention here but our sincere thanks to all who arranged them – they are incredible.
We remembered and prayed for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor who passed away on the 1st of September. As patron, the Cardinal was heavily involved in CAFOD’s work and is missed in CAFOD and in our diocese where he was Bishop from 1977 to 2000.
We were also joined in the office by new volunteer, Claire. This means we have four regular office volunteers including Steve, Elizabeth and Alastair. During the year we happily welcomed Maria, Jacqueline, Jeremy to our school volunteer team meaning we now have ten school volunteer visitors with more interested in joining in 2018.
CAFOD’s Harvest Fast Day in October showcased Edelmira, an El Salvadoran Farmer. It was supported well by individuals, parishes and schools in the diocese, again with a variety of lunches and events. Donations are still coming in from our parishes and schools.
In Autumn, the Sainsbury’s ‘Don’t Ditch Fairtrade Tea’ campaign was well supported in the diocese and pressure is still being applied so that Sainsbury’s doesn’t back track on its commitment to Fairtrade.
Young leaders from three of our diocesan schools (St Peter’s, St George’s and Salesians) joined with others from Portsmouth diocese in October for training with the aim of leading CAFOD activities in their own school.
We celebrated the First World Day of the Poor on Sunday the 19th of November, called for by Pope Francis.
In November across England and Wales, Memorial Masses were celebrated to remember and honour friends and supporters who have died. Our Lady of England in Storrington warmly hosted our Mass with Fr Charles offering the Mass. We remembered many people, not least James Malcolm our Parish Volunteer in Molesey who also coordinated the Weybridge Deanery for many years. James sadly passed away on the 29th of October and is missed by all who knew him.
We held retreats throughout the country and our local one at the wonderful St Cuthman’s diocesan retreat centre in Coolham in December. We reflected on Oscar Romero and other inspiring human-rights defenders.
We had some notable campaign successes in 2017, not least a victory for families in Brazil. Diocesan Young CAFOD volunteers Eleanor, John-Paul and Ed shared their passion for Laudato Si’ at a global youth conference to coincide with international climate talks. Two thirds of general election candidates heard CAFOD’s questions and calls for a more just world. We also had our second livesimply parish – Holy Family in Ash, with many others registered and journeying towards it. The World Bank, subject of our Power to Be campaign, recently stated it will end its financial support for oil and gas exploration within the next two year.
2017 was sadly a year of many emergencies. Here are some – many of them still on-going, please click through for more information or to support the appeals.
The Syria Crisis continued. Thanks to the compassion and generosity of Catholics across England and Wales, our partners are providing vital emergency aid – food, shelter and medical care – to vulnerable families both inside Syria and in neighbouring countries.
East Africa Crisis continued. 16 million people have been facing severe hunger in South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. More than 800,000 children under five are severely malnourished. CAFOD supported our Church partners in these countries who are already on the frontline doing all that they can.
Rohingya Crisis – More than 630,000 people are estimated to have fled to Bangladesh since August, escaping violence in Myanmar. CAFOD’s partner, Caritas Bangladesh, is responding to the Rohingya crisis.
Yemen Crisis – More than two years of conflict have pushed Yemen, already one of the world’s poorest countries, to the brink of catastrophe. Half of the population – 14 million people – have been going hungry and need help before it’s too late.
The Refugee Crisis Continued, supporting our partners Caritas Serbia, Caritas Hellas, Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Switzerland. Messages of hope written by our supporters have been shared with refugees around the world. This was a big theme of our presence at the Flame Youth Conference in March, 10,000 reasons.
Devastating Floods across South Asia affected more than 40 million people and resulted in the deaths of over 1,200 people. We have partners in India, Bangladesh and Nepal who are providing urgent support to the most vulnerable and marginalised communities devastated by the floods.
Also various emergencies happened but didn’t really make the news such as those in Colombia, Sri-Lanka and Peru.
Our prayers, thoughts and efforts go to those in need throughout the world.
Our sincere thanks go to all of you who have made it possible for us to support people and communities in poverty throughout the world. You have fed the hungry, given water to the thirsty, provided for the homeless, protected the vulnerable, made peace, called for justice, reached people in the most difficult circumstances and helped build a world that more closely reflects the Kingdom of God.