With just over a month to go, it’s time to get ready for Harvest Family Fast Day. Join us for coffee, croissants and a Harvest Fast Day briefing. Also an opportunity to hear from Naomi Dring CAFOD’s Programme Support Officer for Peru, Bolivia & Colombia talk about how they are responding to climate change and other environmental issues. Find out more about what you can do to change lives with CAFOD’s help. Do join us.
The first week in June is designated Volunteer Week in the UK. As part of the CAFOD celebrations two national events on the 8th (London) & 15th June (Manchester) were organised to thank and encourage existing volunteers. As a new volunteer of less than one year’s service I was interested and curious to experience the event on 8th June at Westminster Cathedral Hall. Living in East Sussex this was for me an easy to reach venue but I was surprised and delighted to learn that some volunteers had travelled from more distant places like the Isle of Wight and Swansea and some had come from more northern parts of the country. This gave me a sense of the CAFOD ‘extended family’ that exists.
One of the highlights of the day for me came from listening to Christine Allen the recently appointed Director at CAFOD. Christine takes up her role not only with the experience of her previous charity organisations but having many years ago worked for CAFOD. As I listened to Christine I got the message that she was pleased to be back with the ‘family’. She also mentioned how important and privileged it was for CAFOD to have some 6000 plus volunteers to share in the work in parishes and schools to create a fairer and more just world.
Another highlight for me was when a long-term volunteer of 40 years service was honoured with a Papal Blessing. She was obviously a lot younger than me when she began her volunteer work so I don’t think I can top her record! It was good to be present to witness such committed service.
CAFOD wants to reach everyone where support is needed but insufficient funds means that only 2 out of 3 requests can be met. We listened to 3 members of the International Team pitch for their projects. At each table in the hall we then discussed the merits of the projects with a view to deciding which one would be the one we couldn’t support due to lack of money. This was very difficult as each was worthy of funding. A consensus was reached in the room and this was an example of the daily challenge for the CAFOD team. These were real projects where a decision had already been made by the International Team.
If we want to change the world we need to be able to tell the story well because there is power in personal and corporate stories. This is what we heard in the ‘Telling Your Story’ workshop. We told our stories to each other – how we became involved with CAFOD – and gave feedback on what we saw, felt and thought as each person spoke. This exercise was then used to read and reflect on some of CAFOD’s stories of overseas work. As we reflect on other people’s stories they begin to integrate with our story. How can we share these stories with those in our parishes and schools to create a culture of encounter as opposed to indifference?
As the day came to an end we said goodbye to our fellow volunteers with the expectation that we would meet again at a future training or event day.
Why not consider volunteering for CAFOD? We need people to help deliver the message throughout the diocese. There are many different volunteering opportunities for people in England and Wales with different skills to offer – including: volunteering in parishes, schools, campaigning, corresponding with MPs working in the office and writing prayers. For further information look on our website in the volunteering section.
Campaign Volunteer Coordinator and School Volunteer for CAFOD Arundel and Brighton
A ground-breaking agreement on climate change, signed in Paris in 2015 by 196 countries (including the UK), came into force in November 2016. This was a recognition that climate change is by far the most serious danger facing mankind and all life on earth. The effects of climate change being felt now include increased extreme weather patterns – droughts, flooding, stronger and more frequent hurricanes. In the UK we are experiencing hotter summers and wetter winters. Sea levels are rising as the result of polar ice melting and the water is expanding as it warms up. The warmer water absorbs more carbon dioxide resulting in it becoming more acidic.
The impact of this is falling most heavily on people in the developing countries – those who have done least to cause it and who also have the least resources to cope.
We need to ensure that our politicians do take the actions they know are necessary. To enable us to do this, CAFOD is launching a new campaign “Our Common Home”, named after Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ – On Care for Our Common Home, which complements what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that our responsibility as good stewards of creation is to care for our world and not ‘steal’ resources from future generations.
We need to tell the government to embed in law that the UK will reach “Net Zero” carbon emissions by 2045 – that is, the emissions we produce will be no more than the carbon that is being absorbed e.g. by trees and plants. We all need to play our part in putting pressure on our Government.
CAFOD will be joining other organisations in a mass lobby of Parliament on Wednesday 26 June, where thousands of people will be discussing climate change with their MPs. A coach will be running from Hove via Crawley.
Sign up today. If not, we will have no answer when, as Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage climate activist said: “Our grandchildren ask us why we knew, but did nothing.”
Sign our petition and find out more about the lobby today: cafod.org.uk/climatelobby. CAFOD also invites you to reflect how you, your family and your parish can work together to respond to the climate crisis, inspired by the teachings of Pope Francis. Use the “Live simple activity poster” to think and discusses about how your community can do a few simple things to live more sustainably and cut down on carbon emission.
By Roger Morton CAFOD Campaign Volunteer Coordinator