CAFOD talks on Bolivia taking place near you!



Nicanora_MGL1666_brandedWe are rolling out a series of talks on our work in Bolivia during September, encouraging all parish volunteers and supporters to come along and to hear about how your support makes a difference, as well as some updates on how you can get involved this Harvest Fast Day.

CAFOD has been working in Bolivia, the poorest country in South America, for more than twenty years. Join us for one of the talks near you:

Swansea on Saturday, 10 September from 10 am – 4 pm, book here.

Newport on Tuesday, 13 September from 2:30 – 5 pm, book here.

Hereford on Wednesday 14 September from 2:30 – 5 pm, book here.

Llanelli on Thursday, 15 September from 2:30 – 5 pm, book here.

Cardiff on Saturday 17 September from 10.30 – 1.30 pm, book here.

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Speaking up for CAFOD and 12,000 feet up in the Andes


Bernadette, Sue (Mumbles) Paul &  Stella (Pontyberem) and Sandra (Neath) with a Lampedusa Cross at the Swansea briefing (Mary from St David’s is missing from the photo)

Two parishes in Menevia – St David’s Priory Church in Swansea and Our Lady, Queen of Peace in Llanelli hosted Fast Day briefings for some of our dedicated volunteers earlier this month.

This year the country of focus for Harvest is Bolivia.

It’s a landlocked country in central South America and one third of the country is the Andean mountain range.

It’s the poorest country in South America.

The Altiplano is a vast, inhospitable plain almost 4,000 metres above sea level.

The soil is poor quality because the area is incredibly arid.  The climate is changing and becoming increasingly unpredictable. Continue reading

Welsh Martyrs and Pilgrimage in the Year of Mercy


Pope Francis has asked that this Jubilee Year of Mercy should be one big pilgrimage.

He has spoken about the spirituality and devotion of those who go on pilgrimages as an expression of their faith and a form of evangelization which should be promoted and valued more.

On October 25 1970 Pope Paul VI canonized the 40 martyrs of England and Wales, amongst them were St John Kemble (1599 – 22 August 1679) and the last Welsh martyr, St David Lewis (1616 – 27 August 1679).

Monmouthshire remembers these two saints every August with two pilgrimages on August 22 for St John Kemble at St Mary’s Monmouth and on August 27 for St David Lewis at the church of SS Francis Xavier and St David Lewis, Usk.

John Kemble was born in St Weonards in Herefordshire to a prominent recusant Catholic family which included four other priests.  He was ordained at Douai College on 23 February 1625 and returned to England in June of the same year as a missionary in Monmouthshire and Herefordshire.

For 53 years he served as an itinerant priest.  Catholic clergy still had to be discreet about their ministry but Fr Kemble won many admirers, even amongst Protestants, and escaped persecution, until Titus Oates and the Popish plot of 1678.

William Bedloe, from Monmouth, gave false information about leading Catholics in the area and Fr John Kemble and Fr David Lewis were implicated.  Fr Lewis was arrested at St Michael’s Church, Llantarnam and Fr Kemble was arrested at Pembridge Castle near Welsh Newton.

He was incarcerated in Hereford Gaol until April the following year when he was taken to London to be interrogated about the plot.  He was 80 years old and being unable to ride a horse, was strapped on its back.

No evidence was found of his involvement in the plot but he was found guilty of treason – by being a Catholic priest – and was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered.

He walked most of the way back to Hereford to meet his fate.

Before his execution he insisted on praying, finishing his drink and smoking a last pipe.

The hangman was distraught and Fr John Kemble is said to have consoled him saying “…do thy office.  I forgive thee with all my heart.  Thou wilt do me a greater kindness that discourtesy.”


Execution of St John Kemble

He was allowed to die on the gallows before being drawn and quartered.

One of his hands is still preserved in St Francis Xavier’s church in Hereford and his body rests in the churchyard of St Mary’s in Welsh Newton (Church of England).

The annual pilgrimage to the grave of St John Kemble took place on 22 August with pilgrims from near and far leaving St Mary’s church in Monmouth after Sunday Mass to walk to Welsh Newton for a service at his resting place.

Pilgrims returned to Monmouth for Benediction, celebrated by Fr Nicholas James.  A very generous tea was prepared and served by parishioners and was enjoyed by all.

The following Sunday, 27 August – and only a short distance away – pilgrims gathered to remember the last Welsh martyr, St David Lewis.

David Lewis was born in 1616 and was the youngest of nine children of the Reverend Morgan Lewis, the Protestant headmaster of the grammar school at Abergavenny and a Catholic mother, Margaret Pritchard.


St David Lewis, after an engraving, in Llantarnam Abbey

He converted to Catholicism after visiting Paris.  His parents died when he was only 22 years old and that same year he went to Rome to prepare for the priesthood.  He was ordained on 20 July 1642.

He was immediately sent to Wales.  He returned to Rome as spiritual director of his former college but the Mission in South Wales pleaded for Fr Lewis’ return to his homeland.

The request was granted and he returned to the Jesuit Mission of St Francis Xavier at a place called “The Cwm” on the Hereford/Monmouth border in 1648 where he remained for the next 30 years.

His kindness earned him the title: “Tay y Flodion” – Father of the Poor.

Pilgrims in Usk

Pilgrims in Usk


As he was preparing to say Mass on Sunday 17 November 1678, he was arrested and brought to Monmouth for trial on 16 March 1679.

He pleaded not guilty but was sent to Newgate prison in London with John Kemble and questioned about the “plot.”

He was finally brought back to Usk in Monmouthshire and was hanged on 27 August 1679 and posthumously disemboweled.

The mainly Protestant crowd insisted that he receive a proper burial.

Plaque near place of execution of St David Lewis

Plaque near place of execution of St David Lewis

After the Titus Oates affair, the remaining Welsh-speaking Catholic priests were either executed or exiled.

St David Lewis was the last Welshman to become a Jesuit until 2001, more than 300 years later.

In 2007 a plaque was erected on the spot where David Lewis was arrested near Llantarnam Abbey.

St David Lewis’ last words were: “Sweet Jesus, receive my soul.”

Pilgrims gathered at the beautiful church of SS Francis Xavier and David Lewis in Usk for quiet reflection before setting out on pilgrimage to the place of execution of St David Lewis.


Interior of SS Francis Xavier & David Lewis


We were lead by Fr John Kelly and Fr Bernard Sixtus and the pilgrimage ended at the grave of the martyr in the churchyard of St Mary’s Priory Church and prayers in the shelter of the church.

Banner of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

Banner of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales






The heavy downpours didn’t dampen the pilgrim spirit and a scrumptious spread and hot tea was served in the parish room.


If your parish would like to organise their own pilgrimage to mark the Year of Mercy, there is an excellent resource to guide you.

Marches for Refugees in Swansea and London

stand-as-one-rally-flyerThis September, world leaders meet at two crucial summits in New York to discuss the refugee crisis.

Before these summits we have an opportunity to demonstrate to governments around the world that we care about refugees and we want our own countries to do more to support them and to find a long-term solution to the refugee crisis.

A large and varied group of organisations including CAFOD, Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) and others are working together to host a march in central London on September 17.

Ahead of the march, there will be a short ecumenical service of prayer for refugees at St James’ Roman Catholic Church, Spanish Place, 22 George Street, London W1U 3QY from 12 noon til 12.45 p.m.

The march starts at Park Lane and will end in Parliament Square. Click here to register for the march or service


For those who want to attend something more locally in Wales, please join the Stand as One Rally in Castle Square, Swansea from 10.30 – 12.30 p.m.

Click here for the link to the Swansea Rally

Get your parish involved!

If you do attend, we’d like to ask you to tweet about the march using #WeStandWithYou and tagging @cafod 

“We hope that the world will heed these scenes of tragic and indeed desperate need, and respond in a way worthy of our common humanity.”

Pope Francis

Welcome to Will, our new Regional Communications Co-ordinator!

Last week we welcomed Will Rees, the new Regional Communications Co-ordinator for CAFOD South West and Wales to the team. He is based in the South Wales office in Cardiff and here he shares a bit about his life and his role at CAFOD. Hi there, my name’s Will Rees and I am very pleased […]

via Welcome to Will, our new Regional Communications Co-ordinator! — CAFOD Birmingham Blog

CAFOD retreat


As this Year of Mercy draws to a close, we are hosting a retreat at Llantarnam Abbey on Sat 12 Nov that will explore how each of us can continue to live out Pope Francis’ call to be “witnesses of mercy” in our families, communities and in our world. Continue reading

Pope calls for new Spiritual and Corporal Work of Mercy

Africa-Kenya-plain_opt_fullstory_largeThursday 1 September was the second World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and Pope Francis has used the day to say that destroying our environment is a sin.

Pope Francis yet again showed his knack for surprises and his openness to “newness” by adding the care of creation to the traditional sets of both the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Our eighth work of corporal and spiritual work of mercy is ‘To care for our common home’.  

It calls for a “grateful contemplation of God’s world.” And “simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness” and “makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world.” Continue reading

A new Holy Door of Mercy at St Mary’s Carmarthen

Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns dedicated St Mary’s Church in Carmarthen a Holy Door of Mercy in the Menevia diocese on 31 July 2016.

Fr Pius with altar servers and Lampedusa Cross by the Year of Mercy at St Mary's

Fr Pius Augustine with his altar servers at the Holy Door of Mercy

So it seemed especially fitting that Fr Pius Augustine welcomed the Lampedusa Cross to his beautiful parish for the weekend of 20-21 August.

Following an uplifting celebration of Mass on Sunday morning, parishioners attended a presentation on the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy where we explored what Mercy means to each of us. Continue reading

St Helen’s and the Lampedusa Cross

The Lampedusa Cross is continuing its journey across the Archdiocese of Cardiff and for the past fortnight has been hosted at St Helen’s in Caerphilly.

Lampedusa Cross display with prayer cards

One of our loyal volunteers, Berenice Williams, was on hand to help with the CAFOD display which is accompanying the Lampedusa Cross and which draws on some of Pope Francis’ teachings about Welcoming the Stranger, especially during this Holy Year of Mercy.

“We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees… are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.”  Pope Francis

Lampedusa Cross before the altar

The Lampedusa Cross before the altar

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St Rock celebrated in Caerphilly

The feast of St Rock was celebrated at St Helen’s, Caerphilly on August 16th with Fr John Kelly’s congregation boosted by the addition of much-loved pets that had St Helen's church Caerphilly - interior with Lampedusa Cross and YoM displayaccompanied their owners to Mass.

I first noticed a small dog sitting next to its owner at the front of the church.  ~This was the very first time I had seen a dog attending Mass – but no-one seemed to be at all surprised by the dog’s intermittent requests for attention.

As Mass progressed I realised that that there were quite a few more dogs dotted about the pews, but I still had no iSt Rockdea that the parish was celebrating the feast day of the patron saint of dogs – St Rock.

Man’s (and woman’s) best friends received a special blessing at the end of the celebration.  It really was lovely.

More of why I was at visiting the parish later, but it was a wonderful introduction to St Rock, who must have a special place in any dog owner’s heart.

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Schools volunteers needed!


Can you inspire young people?

Can you inspire young people?







We are looking to recruit a number of new volunteers in join our Education team working in schools across the Archdiocese of Cardiff and the diocese of Menevia. Continue reading