Retired South Wales Teacher Receives Blessing From Pope for 25 Years of Volunteering

sandra davies

On Sunday 6th October, Sandra Davies was awarded a Papal Blessing in recognition of her dedicated volunteering and commitment to CAFOD.

Sandra Davies presented with an unexpected Papal Blessing

A former Port Talbot teacher, Sandra Davies, has been presented with an award from Pope Francis for her 25 years of volunteering and helping to educate others on development issues. To the surprise and delight of the congregation, Fr Neil Evans presented the award on behalf of Pope Francis at the end of Sunday Mass on Sunday 6th October at St Joseph’s Church in Neath.

The church was beautifully decorated for Harvest and over 70 parishioners, keen to support Sandra and all she has done, attended Mass, which was beautifully led by pupils from St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Neath. There was joyous singing, thanksgiving hymns, contributions for the local food bank and a superb celebration cake made by a fellow parishioner, Desiree Nicholas.

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Thanking Sandra’s meaningful and life-saving work

After Mass, Sandra shared her experience of volunteering with us and thanked everyone who attended. She was described by our South Wales representative, Therese Warwick, as “a very modest and self-effacing person with a heart of gold who has quietly got on with supporting Fr Neil Evans”. We are incredibly grateful for her unwavering support over the years.

“Sandra has a long history of working to educate children and young people about issues that affect global communities – and has helped people in the local community to better understand the issues that are facing some of the poorest communities around the world.”

From everyone at CAFOD, we want to say a massive congratulations to Sandra for her Papal Blessing- it is truly well-deserved.

We wouldn’t be able to continue our work around the world without admirable volunteers like Sandra. She has done everything from speaking at school to fundraising, taking part in charity events and campaigning, and it was wonderful to see everyone support her on this special day.

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How can you get involved?

We have over 5,000 volunteers across England and Wales who help to educate, campaign and raise their voice on issues affecting some of the poorest communities in the world. Whether you have been with us for years or you’re just starting your journey, get involved by visiting cafod.org.uk/volunteering or email southwales@cafod.org.uk.

We welcome our new media volunteer Bethan

It is my first day as a volunteer for CAFOD, South Wales and I look forward to this journey and the opportunities it brings!

My name is Bethan Fry, I am a 20-year-old student, originally from Pontypool. I’m in my second year at the University of South Wales working towards my Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. As someone who is very passionate about campaigning and influencing others, I’m hoping that my time at CAFOD will give me the experience and platform to raise awareness for global issues and put me on the right track to making a change. Continue reading

Talk in Cwmbran – Head of International Operations

Head of International Operations shares her stories of hope through her everyday work in CAFOD.

On Saturday 23 March, we welcome Fionuala Murray to Our Lady of the Angels, in Cwmbran, who will be relaying our aims to tackle the cause of poverty, as well as sharing her own experience of managing our overseas operations.   Continue reading

Meet our newest volunteer Charlotte!

Today marks my first day as a volunteer for CAFOD South Wales and I look forward to seeing what the next few weeks will bring!

My name is Charlotte Kay, I am 21 years old and grew up in Preston, Lancashire. Whilst undertaking my volunteer work, I am also completing the final year of my Religious Studies and Philosophy degree at Cardiff University. During my time here, I am hoping to get involved in the media side of CAFOD, including writing news stories about current events within CAFOD South Wales. Additionally, I am also hoping to develop our social media presence to ultimately increase the readership on online news and communication outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook.

I decided to get involved in CAFOD due to both my university degree course and personal influences. Since September, I have been studying a ‘Religion in the Workplace’ module which encouraged students to engage in a placement within a local charity or faith organisation. This gave me an opportunity to get in touch with CAFOD South Wales to improve my understanding of the work they do both in the UK and overseas. Additionally, it allowed me to dedicate my time to raise awareness of current issues and to further promote CAFOD online. Also, for several years now, parts of my family and school peers have had connections with CAFOD Lancaster which inspired me to build upon their knowledge by getting involved in a different volunteering region.

I look forward to continuing my volunteer work here at CAFOD and I am excited to have the opportunity to work alongside the dedicated people within the charity. Also, I hope to learn more about the many inspirational people that CAFOD helps, both here and around the world, by shaping and improving their lives.

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

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.

Continue reading

Praying simply at Llantarnam

Volunteers and supporters from across Wales and Herefordshire gathered together to reflect on CAFOD’s Harvest appeal, and to learn more about how to pray simply, in order that we can live more simply.

The day, led by Therese Warwick and Kieran O’Brien, touched upon the stories of our partners featured in the Harvest appeal, which was then followed by a time to pray and reflect contemplatively. Continue reading

Romero talk by Clare Dixon

Blessed Oscar Romero, due to be canonised in October, was one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th Century. In preparation for his canonisation we are delighted to welcome speaker Clare Dixon, who has an incredible insight and knowledge of Romero’s legacy through her work and close ties with communities in Latin America.

The Cornerstone, Charles St, Cardiff, CF10 2GA

Sat 6 October – 7:00pm

Mass 5:30, tea and coffee 6:30, talk at 7:00pm

FREE -All Welcome Continue reading

Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns launches Share the Journey campaign in Menevia

Earlier this month, Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns of the Diocese of Menevia added his support to Pope Francis’ call for the need to build relationships between migrants, refugees and local communities.

Bishop Tom endorsed Share the Journey, the global campaign launched by the Holy Father in September last year, as he joined other world leaders and bishops in making the “Reach Out” gesture of welcome – which is at the heart of the campaign – stretching his arms out wide.

“Hope is what drives the hearts of those who depart… it is also what drives the hearts of those who welcome: the desire to meet each other, get to know each other, to dialogue.”  Pope Francis.

 

The Share the Journey campaign is being supported by more than 200 Catholic organisations around the world.  CAFOD and Caritas Social Action in England and Wales (CSAN) and Caritas sisters agencies in over 40 countries.

The campaign is calling on all governments, and us, as individuals, to play our part in welcoming and protecting people who are forced to flee their own homes because of persecution, poverty and emergencies.

Inspired by Pope Francis’ special concern for people on the move, we are asking the people of England and Wales to step up and make their voices heard as world leaders draw up ambitious new UN agreements (compacts) on migration and refugees in September and December of this year.    There are many resources available to support you, but one of the easiest ways to add your voice is by signing the online petition.

 “If we bond with refugees and migrants, we will break down the barriers with which some are trying to separate us. The campaign reaches out to recognise, restore and share our common humanity.”   Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis

To support the campaign we are attempting to walk 24,900 miles – the distance around the whole world.  We are hoping that many parishes across the Menevia diocese will get involved in this act of solidarity, to Share the Journey with our global neighbours fleeing their homes.

Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns with Fr Mansel Usher at The Mumbles

Every step you take, together with others from across the country, will send a message to world leaders that we want them to step up too; to act with courage and compassion.

To learn more about the Catholic church’s response to the refugee crisis, CAFOD has produced a useful factsheet.  And here are some frequently asked questions about the refugee crisis.

If you want to get involved, you can download a copy of the Share the Journey organiser’s guide to get all the information you need.   And there are free campaign (cards) which you can order or please get in touch with us and we can support you as much as possible.

One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves as individuals, communities and countries at this time of mass movements of people and global doubt is ‘Do I allow fear to prevail in my heart, or do I allow hope to reign?’

“Through ‘Share the Journey’ we hope to dispel fear and understand why so many people are leaving their homes at this time in history.  We also want to inspire communities to build relationships with refugees and migrants.  We want to shine a light and lead the way.  Migration is a very old story but our campaign aims to help communities see it with new eyes and an open heart.” Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila

You may want to know more about the position of the Catholic Church in England  and Wales on the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe?

I hope this helps: CAFOD’s mandate from the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is to support poor communities overseas.  CSAN (the Catholic Social Action Network) is the social action arm of the Catholic Church for work in England and Wales.  Their members support refugees who have already arrived in the UK, and they do advocacy work on poverty in the UK.  Together CAFOD and CSAN form Caritas England and Wales.

Both organisations support the Share the Journey campaign.

 

Romero Festival in South Wales (9-15 March)

Today brought wonderful news from the Vatican: Pope Francis has recognized a second miracle from Blessed Oscar Romero which puts him on the path to canonization.

He was beatified by Pope Francis in May 2015.

Romero was Archbishop of San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. He was assassinated on 24 March 1980 as he was celebrating Mass.

At the time, El Salvador was in the grip of a cruel civil war between guerrilla forces on the left and a dictatorial government on the right.

When he was appointed, Oscar Romero was seen as a “safe” pair of hands but during his three short years as Archbishop, and seeing the oppression and violence at first hand, he became an outspoken critic of the injustice he was witnessing all around him. Continue reading