Retreat – Countering Consumerism

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In his new letter, Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad), Pope Francis encourages us to open our eyes, ears and hearts, to be unsettled by the words of the Gospel and expand our often limited horizons.

We’re gathering together to do just that on Thursday 29 November at the Ty Croeso Centre, Llantarnam Abbey, Cwmbran NP44 3Y (11-4 pm). We’ll be exploring Scripture and Church teaching and be inspired by one another and CAFOD’s campaigning and work overseas. Continue reading

10 year anniversary of the Climate Change Act – send a birthday card to your MP


 

Ten years ago, MPs came together to pass a ground-breaking law: the Climate Change Act.  The law was the first of its kind and showed that the UK was serious about tackling climate change.

However, ten years on, we know that we need to be going much further and faster with our emissions cuts if we are going to limit the word effects of climate change.

We need to set a net zero target before 2050, this means only producing the same amount of greenhouse gases that we take in.

A group of MPs have already come together to ask for this by signing a letter.  But if we are going to set a new target, we need more MPs to sign up.

Please click on the link here to sign a card to your MP and ask them to be a Zero Hero.
We will add your name, along with others in your constituency, and deliver it to them. Continue reading

Oscar Romero and CAFOD

Archbishop Oscar Romero gave his life, in the words of Pope John Paul II, “for the Church and the people of his beloved country” of El Salvador.

Until his assassination, Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917-1980) of San Salvador spoke out courageously in defence of human rights and social justice in strife-torn El Salvador.

Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was born in Ciudad Barrios, El Salvador, on August 15, 1917. One of ten children. He was apprenticed to a local carpenter when he was 13 years old but he felt a vocation for the priesthood.  He left home the following year to enter the seminary and was ordained in 1942.

Romero spent the first twenty-five years of his ministry as a parish priest and diocesan secretary in San Miguel. In 1970 he became auxiliary bishop of San Salvador where he remained for four years until 1974 when the Vatican named him to the see of Santiago de María, a poor, rural diocese which included the town he grew up in.

In 1977 he returned to San Salvador to succeed Archbishop Luis Chávez y González, who had retired after almost 40 years in office.

Oscar Romero was living in a period of dramatic change in the Church in Latin America.

As Clare Dixon, Head of CAFOD in Latin America told us in the Cornerstone in Cardiff on Saturday 6 October, the region’s bishops, had met at Medellín in Colombia, in 1967 to discuss how to implement the recommendations of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), locally.

Canon Peter Collins and CAFOD supporters and J & P campaigners at The Cornerstone in Cardiff to hear Clare Dixon, CAFOD’s Head of Programme in Latin America for almost 40 years.

El Salvador was an extremely conservative society where a privileged few enjoyed enormous wealth at the expense of the very impoverished majority. Some younger priests recognized the injustice and imbalance of this situation and sided with the poor but the lone voice of encouragement in their efforts came from Archbishop Chávez y González.

During this period Oscar Romero was seen as a conservative and sometimes sceptical of both the Vatican II reforms and the Medellin pronouncements.

So when he was appointed Archbishop in 1977, he was not a popular choice with the politically active clergy, who saw his appointment as preserving the status quo in a safe pair of hands.

However, Romero emerged almost immediately as an outspoken opponent of injustice and fearless defender of the poor and suffering.

Romero himself said that he owed his change of attitude to his time as Bishop of Santiago de María, where he witnessed firsthand the suffering of El Salvador’s landless poor.

Continue reading

Hands on for Peace in Colombia

We are delighted to have Barbara Davies, our colleague in CAFOD who works as country representative for Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, will be giving a presentation on the peace process in Colombia at The Temple of Peace in Cardiff on Wednesday 24 October at 12 noon.

Barbara has been working on peace and development issues for over a decade across South America. Originally from Penarth, one of the first campaigns she worked on was to create a solidarity and awareness raising link between Wales and Colombia, highlighting the civil war that was taking place there and the amount of people displaced by the conflict.

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Protection of Creation celebrated at Penarth & Dinas Powys

Parishioners from St Joseph’s parish in Penarth and St Mary’s parish in Dinas Powys, came together on Wednesday 3 October to mark the end of Creation time which ran until 4 October, the feast of St Francis of Assisi.

This is an ecumenical season dedicated to prayer for the protection of Creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles and this dedicated group of volunteers organised a Prayer Vigil and invited other local denominations to join their celebration.

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Campaign volunteers in Wales donated shoes for refugee art installation

Back in the middle of August hundreds of shoes were displayed on the square in front of and up the steps to Westminster Cathedral.  Why?  To demonstrate how many Catholics around the country were speaking out in support of Pope Francis’ refugee campaign: Share the Journey.

Two of our long-standing CAFOD Campaign volunteers: John Fellows (Cardiff) and Stella Westmacott (Menevia) each donated a pair of their own shoes to be part of the art installation which saw their shoes alongside 300 shoes sourced from refugees.

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Arms wide open in welcome at Our Lady’s in Hereford

The parish of Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs in Hereford held their Share the Journey walk after early Mass on Sunday 9 September.

At the end of Mass, CAFOD’s Share the journey presentation was shown to the congregation and the silence in church was palpable and powerful as myths were debunked and the reality of the journeys some of our brothers and sisters are forced to make were starkly laid bare.

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Sharing the journey with refugees in Brecon

On a lovely sunny afternoon in the middle of August, parishioners from St Michael’s parish in Brecon, were joined in a Share the Journey walk by a number of refugees linked to Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees which was formed in 2015.

The group then joined the national City of Sanctuary movement: which is comprised of over 60 local groups which are committed to developing a “culture of welcome and inclusion” for people seeking sanctuary in the United Kingdom.

Father Jimmy Pulickakunnel, parish priest at St Michael’s led the group in prayer at the start of the walk.   Local CAFOD volunteer, Jean Ruston was the main organiser of the event and had chosen an accessible, peaceful walk through the beautiful and historic town of Brecon and along the banks of the River Honddu which joins the River Usk in the centre of town.

What is the Share the Journey campaign? #sharejourney

The Share the Journey campaign has at its heart the vision of a united global family.  The focus is on our joint journey as people on the move in departure, transit and host communities.

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Upcoming events

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We don’t usually publish an Ebulletin in August as so many people are away, but we thought that it would be useful to give you an early heads up of dates for forthcoming events.

Saturday 1  September Day of reflection at Ty Croeso Centre, Llantarnam  Abbey from 11 am to 4 pm.  (Coffee from 10.30 am).  Free event, please bring a packed lunch.  We are meeting on  the 4th World  Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation – as instituted by Pope Francis. 

Sunday 9 September– Share the Journey walk following Mass at Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs, Hereford.

Monday 17 September – Education Refresher Day in the Mostyn Room (next to St David’s Cathedral in Cardiff) 10-4 pm.  Existing and potential new School volunteers explore the Family Fast Day resources.

Friday 21 September – Share the Journey walk at The Priory of Our Lady & St Michael, 10 Pen-y-Pound, Abergavenny NP7 5UD

Saturday 22 September – CAFOD Supporter Day at Our Lady, Star of the Sea, Promenade Terrace, Mumbles SA3 4DR.  We have requested a speaker for the event, tbc.

Saturday 29 September –  CAFOD Supporter Day at Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs in Hereford, following on from the Soup Kitchen (12-2) starting at 2.30-4 pm. We have requested a speaker for the event tbc.

Friday 5 October – CAFOD Family Fast Day

Saturday 6 October – Oscar Romero talk by Clare Dixon.  Clare has been Head of CAFOD’s Latin America programmes for nearly 40 years – and since its inception in 2005 she has been Secretary of the Archbishop Romero Trust.  Join us at The Cornerstone, Cardiff (opposite St David’s Cathedral)  Time 7 pm (following Mass in the Cathedral at 5.30 pm).

14 October – Canonisation of Oscar Romero

Tuesday 16 OctoberCAFOD Education training Day 1 for new schools volunteers 10 am – 4 pm.  The Quaker Meeting House in Cardiff (past St David’s Cathedral and the Cornerstone and keep walking). If you are interested in joining our schools volunteer team, please contact southwales@cafod.org.uk

Wednesday 24 October – Talk by Barbara Davies on the peace process in Colombia and an update on Hands On. 12 noon at The Temple of Peace, King Edward VII Ave, Cardiff CF10 3AP

Saturday 10 November – Campaign retreat day at Downside Abbey (10-4 pm). Countering Consumerism: Lessons from Gaudete et Exsultate. All welcome.  Book here.

Monday 12 NovemberMemorial Mass for the Diocese of Menevia at St David’s Priory  Church, Swansea at 12.30 pm.   All welcome.

Sunday 18 November – World Day of the Poor

Monday 19 November Memorial Mass for the Cardiff Archdiocese at St Helen’s Church, Nantagarew Road, Caerphilly CF83 3FB at 7 pm.  All welcome.

Tuesday 27 November – CAFOD Education Training Day 2  (10-4) in the Mostyn Room, adjacent to St David’s Cathedral in Cardiff.

Thursday 29 November – Campaign Retreat Day of Reflection for parish and campaign volunteers – Ty Croeso Centre, Llantarnam Abbey (11-4). Please bring a packed lunch.  All welcome.  Please let us know if you are able to attend.  Tel: 02920 344882 or email southwales@cafod.org.uk

Driving rain, high winds for Share the Journey in West Wales

August has been the month when a number of parishes around the Archdiocese have chosen to hold their Share the Journey walks.

And we could all be forgiven for thinking that Saturday 11 August would be a wonderfully warm Summer afternoon, after the heat-wave the UK had been experiencing in the previous weeks.

However, CAFOD supporters from the parishes of St Michael’s in St David’s and Holy Cross in Fishguard woke up to lashing rain and high winds off the coast of Pembrokeshire on the morning of their walk of solidarity to raise awareness of the plight of refugees and migrants in the run up to UN talks and new compacts due to be agreed in September and December this year.

A band of intrepid walkers, led by Naomi and Esther, set off from the towering cliffs which sandwich the small, rocky cove of Caerfai Bay situated about one mile south of the beautiful and popular city of St David’s.  It’s the smallest city in the UK and earns its status as a city from the magnificent cathedral of St David’s which was built in the twelfth century on the banks of the River Alun.

The scheduled walk along the coastal path from Caerfai Bay, buffeted by driving rain and strong winds, to the isolated, spiritual retreat of St. Non’s.

A truly wonderful place.

In a windswept field off the Pembroke coastal path we were able to see the ruins of St Non’s ancient chapel.  St Non was the mother of St David.  There is a small shrine dedicated to her in the corner of the field.  A covered well is also there which would have been essential to the local community back in the sixth century.  Everything is beautifully tended and cared for.

Sisters of Mercy run the St Non’s retreat centre and they gave us all a warm welcome and treated us to a lovely hot cuppa and a selection of very welcome biscuits.   Close by is a tiny chapel built in the 1930s. It’s door is always open and it boast ancient relics that have been rescued from neighbouring cowsheds!

This part of south-west Wales created the Welcome Fishguard Community Sponsorship Group which was one of first towns to respond to a UK scheme first announced in July 2016 by then Home Affairs Minister, Amber Rudd and Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.

 

The scheme adopted a new approach to refugee resettlement in the UK which aims to prevent refugee families from feeling isolated and struggling to adapt to their new surroundings which can lead to higher rates of unemployment, stress, depression and other problems.

Under this new UK Community Sponsorship program, local groups agree to sponsor refugee families and help them integrate into life in the UK. They help their new families find housing, access medical and social services, arrange English language tuition, and support them with employment, leading to self-sufficiency.

Community sponsorship enables local people to take responsibility for resettling a refugee family, supporting and empowering them to rebuild their lives.

In Wales, there are thirteen community groups already sponsoring families. Under the umbrella of Hiraeth Hope, Fishguard residents have worked with others in Haverfordwest and Narbeth to sponsor Syrian families.  Groups have also formed in Cardiff, Aberystwyth and Cardigan.

Hiraeth Hope was set up in 2015 to connect groups in towns across Wales who wanted to sponsor refugee families under the community settlement programme.

A note on their website says that being inclusive and generous is part of Welsh culture: “the Welsh language word for “Welsh” is “Cymro” which means “one of us.”  These towns are living up to the heritage of inclusiveness.

We are lobbying the UK government to put human dignity at the centre of the new UN agreements on Refugees and Migration.    A united, global response from world leaders is needed to reflect the following:

  1. Respect human dignity
  2. Protect the vulnerable
  3. Support host countries
  4. Keep families together
  5. Tackle the reasons for migration

It’s not too late to organise a card signing in your parish.  You can sign our petition to the UK government.  We are hoping that more of you will organise a simple walk around your church grounds to show your solidarity with people who are forced to flee their home through war, persecution, poverty or climate change.   Debunk the myths with our factsheet.

Lastly, thank you to everyone who braved the elements to #ShareJourney