43 parishioners, 4 dogs and 1 MP Share the Journey/Rhannu’r Daith

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On Sunday, 15 July, 43 parishioners from St Helen’s RC parish in Caerphilly (plus 4 dogs) answered Pope Francis’s call to ShareThe Journey which calls on us all to be “welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees.”

Parish priest, Father John Kelly, welcomed the walkers and the group was blessed with good weather (32 degree heat!) as they set off from the church at 3 pm to walk around the beautiful and historic Caerphilly Castle.

Long-serving local MP for Caerphilly, Wayne David, joined the walk and added his support to the global campaign which is calling on the UK government to take a lead when the United Nations meet in September and December this year to agree new global agreements on refugees and migrants.

These agreements will set the tone for many years to come on how refugees are treated and welcomed around the world.

“Refugees are not numbers to be distributed and allocated, but persons with a name, a story, with hopes and aspirations.”

 

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Share The Journey in Herefordshire

Representatives of the Herefordshire deanery parishes including Fr Matthew and Fr Simon

The Herefordshire deanery of parishes attended a presentation on Share the Journey, followed by Mass at Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs in Hereford on Tuesday, 8 May.

Our thanks to the Dean, Fr Matthew Carney for his kind hospitality and welcome.

Share the Journey is a global campaign launched by Pope Francis in Autumn 2017. The Holy Father is hoping that each and every one of us will step up and show our support for refugees and migrants.

The meeting was called to give more background to the campaign and what it is calling for and to ask our supporters and their fellow parishioners to get together to organise a walk in their individual parish – to show solidarity with our neighbours who are fleeing their homes.

Every step we each take, together in our parishes, with our fellow townspeople, with other faith groups, will send a message to world leaders that we want them to step up too.

The aim is to walk 24,900 miles around the world – it isn’t as difficult as you might imagine… you don’t have to attempt the strenuous Pen y Fan and Corn Du circular walk or the Black Hill (Crib y Garth) in the Black Mountains in Herefordshire… you can just walk inside your church, around the pews, slowly, in pairs – holding the CAFOD action card in your hand, to guide your conversation.

You might walk around the church a couple of times – you might achieve half a mile each, but with a group of people, all walking together, the miles will soon add up…

The action cards include a story, prayers and questions for reflection; a message to send to the Prime Minister, Theresa May, calling for global agreements which put the human dignity of people on the move at their heart.

You can download a Share the Journey Organiser’s guide and if you order any of the petition cards, you will be sent a copy of the organiser’s guide automatically.

There is an informative Share the Journey factsheet with all the information you need at your fingertips to get started and which you can share with your fellow parishioners.

There is a short talk available, if you are able to say a few words after Mass about the campaign and a generic poster which you can also use to spread the message to as wide an audience as possible.

If you are thinking of inviting your MP, then why not take a look at this template for ideas which you can then personalise.

Some of our supporters who write to their MPs 3 or 4 times a year – before a reception at Parliament – talking about Share the Journey with their MP

If you would like us to come along to your parish to give a short presentation on the campaign, we would be delighted to support you.

Lastly, if your parish is getting involved – please, please let us know when and where!

We are here to help publicise your good work and we want to do that as effectively as possible.

You might like to think about holding a walk or card signing during Refugee Week which is from 16-24 June.  Some frequently asked questions can be found here.

Here is the link to our Facebook page and please follow us on Twitter too.

There is a Share the Journey online petition here which you can sign. Please encourage others to do the same.  Thank you.

Here’s the Health and Safety guide for your walk.

If you can’t get together with others to organise a walk, please can we encourage you to organise a petition card signing event after Mass.

Don’t forget to send us any photos you take, and if you have enough time, a few details about what motivated you to get involved and raise your voice in solidarity?

 

 

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

Ash Wednesday marked with soup lunch in Monmouth

Parishioners and friends from St Mary’s RC Church in Monmouth

Diana Turnbull, a member of the Monmouth and Ross LiveSimply group hosted a soup lunch on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of Lent and to raise funds to support CAFOD’s Lenten appeal for Zimbabwe.

In 1960, a group of Catholic women did something extraordinary. They organised the first Family Fast Day to support mothers and babies in Dominica who were suffering from malnutrition. They received overwhelming support. They aimed to raise £500 but in fact raised over £6,500.

The following year they raised £27,000.  And from this CAFOD was born.

Elspeth Orchard, one of CAFOD’s founders, explained:

“We weren’t doing anything special, we were just doing what we thought we ought to do, remembering that we are all God’s children.”

This year CAFOD is returned to the origins of Family Fast Day and invited supporters to express their love and compassion for our global family, through prayer, fasting and giving.

Fasting is an important spiritual practice, particularly during Lent. Our fast is a symbolic act of love for people who have to go without food – it unites us with them and shows them they are not alone.

Pope Francis tells us that Lent is a time for us to wake up – to have our eyes opened to who we are called to be as children of God. To see that God can give us strength to change not only our own lives, but also to reach out and help others.

Above all, I urge the members of the Church to take up the Lenten journey with enthusiasm, sustained by almsgiving, fasting and prayer. If, at times, the flame of charity seems to die in our own hearts, know that this is never the case in the heart of God! He constantly gives us a chance to begin loving anew.  Pope Francis Lenten message 2018

Fasting has the potential to change and transform our relationships not only with our neighbour, but with ourselves, with God and with creation.

In the Catholic Christian tradition fasting is not seen in isolation, but is very closely linked to prayer and almsgiving – giving money to worthy causes.

This year CAFOD’s Lenten appeal focuses on Zimbabwe.

Once known as the breadbasket of Africa, Zimbabwe now struggles to grow enough food for the population, with one in three people undernourished.

The collapse of the economy, combined with changes in the climate that see later and more erratic rainfall and long dry spells in the growing season, have led to the country struggling to feed itself in many of the last few years.

January to March is the most difficult time of year for food. The rains have started falling from November but the harvest won’t start until April and the stores from last year are depleted – this time of year is known as the ‘hunger gap’.

Children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people living with HIV and AIDS are particularly vulnerable to the effects of malnutrition. In Zimbabwe, one in four children under five have stunted growth from not getting enough good food.

CAFOD is working with the local Catholic church, through Caritas partners in Zimbabwe to tackle hunger and malnutrition.

We are also helping communities to plant community vegetable gardens where each family has their own plot to grow vegetables for their family to eat and to sell any surplus – providing seeds and tools and fencing off the garden to protect the produce from livestock

We are training families on farming techniques to grow drought-resistant crops and adapt their farming methods to a changing climate.

We are teaching families about good nutrition and providing seeds to grow protein-rich foods such as sesame and peanuts.

We’re training nurses and village health workers on nutrition – how to spot a malnourished child and how to prevent malnutrition.

We’re setting up support groups for new mums – where experienced mothers in a community run weekly sessions and undertake home visits with pregnant women and new mums to teach them about breastfeeding and weaning.

We’re running cooking demonstrations through support groups for mums – so mothers know what nutrients are in the new vegetables they are growing and how best to cook them.

Last but not least, we are teaching communities about good hygiene and providing safe water, so people don’t lose nutrients from diarrhoea.

In areas where we have been working, statistics show that people’s diets have improved and people are eating more food and a better variety of nutritious food.

So Diana responded to our invitation to organise her own soup lunch and eat a simple meal in solidarity with others who regularly go without enough to eat.

What your fundraising can do…

    • £1 buys seeds for a family to grow beans that are full of protein
    • £3 can train a local mum to set up a support group for new mums, to advise on breastfeeding and weaning
    • £6 can train a health worker to weigh and measure babies to check for malnutrition
    • £10 can buy nutritious sesame seeds for a family to sow
    • £12 can provide seeds for a family to grow peanuts and make nutritious peanut butter
    • £20 can buy a watering can so seedlings don’t dry out
    • £56 can buy all the seeds needed for a family to plant a garden full of nutritious vegetables
    • £194 can train two health workers and a network of local mums so a whole village of mothers have all the information they need to keep their babies healthy
    • £1,266 buys all the tools needed for a community to care for their own vegetable garden

Match funding

We are fortunate enough to have been awarded match funding for our Lent Fast Day Appeal from the government’s Department for International Development (DFID). This means all eligible donations our supporters make during our Lent Family Fast Day Appeal will be matched by the government, up to a total value of £5m. All donations made from 13 February until 12 May will be doubled.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

“Malnutrition has devastating effects on families all around the world, with children at risk of long-term physical and mental damage.”

“Every donation made by the generous British public to the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development’s Family Fast Day Appeal will be matched pound for pound by the UK Government, helping families in Zimbabwe, Eritrea and Zambia gain access to the food they need to survive.”

So the money from the UK Government will fund a three-year project to improve nutrition in Zimbabwe, Eritrea and Zambia – reaching 245,00 people.

So thank you Diana! The event on Ash Wednesday was a great way for us to start Lent.  It was well attended by friends and parishioners alike and the soup was absolutely delicious.

£100 was raised and your donation will be doubled by the UK Government, making double the difference.

Donate to CAFOD’s Lent appeal here

It’s not too late for your parish to get involved. Find resources here.

 

Join us on Saturday 28 October to lobby Sainsbury’s “Don’t ditch Fairtrade!”

Sainsbury’s is the largest retailer of Fairtrade products in the UK. They’ve decided to abandon Fairtrade certification on some of their own-brand tea products and pilot their own scheme instead, known as ‘Fairly Traded’.

We are concerned that this new ‘Fairly Traded’ tea and any products that follow it, could mean an unfair deal for poor farmers.

Can you join us on Saturday 28 October to register our dismay at this decision by Sainsbury’s? We are meeting at the Sainsbury’s store near Queen Street station in Cardiff at 12.30 pm as part of a nationwide “Day of Action.”

We will be delivering a letter of protest to Sainsbury’s to challenge their decision to abandon the Fairtrade mark and we need your support to help us raise awareness of their decision to replace the Fairtrade Mark on its Red Label and other selected teas with its own `fairly traded’ version.

Online petitions asking Sainsbury’s to keep the Fairtrade mark have already attracted over 130,000 signatures.  But they remain unmoved to date

If you are unable to join us on 28 October in Cardiff, why not take action yourself and tell Sainsbury’s not to ditch Fairtrade.  You can personalise and print out this letter to Sainsbury’s and get as many people in your parish to sign it.

Fairtrade guarantees tea producers receive an additional `premium’ payment – on top of the price of their tea – to invest in their businesses and communities as they see fit.

CAFOD supporters are concerned that tea farmers will lose control of the social premium they would earn under Sainsbury’s alternative scheme, which stipulates that suppliers have to apply to a UK-based board for their funding.

They are also worried that standards will be controlled by Sainsbury’s, and will not be set independently. Tea farmers will not be represented in the scheme’s governance – in stark contrast to Fairtrade certification where producers are part of the decision making process about how standards are set, monitored and reviewed.

It’s estimated that nearly a quarter of a million tea farmers and workers will be affected.

Last month a group of Swansea residents and CAFOD supporters was was moved to protest against at Sainsbury’s decision to trial their own scheme as they feel that the Fairtrade mark is instantly recognisable.

“As consumers, we make a conscious decision to buy Fairtrade tea.  We are confident that when buying Fairtrade, it’s a guarantee of a fair price and a fair deal for the millions of farmers in developing countries who produce the tea we love to drink.”

“We feel that the term “fairly traded” is disingenuous. People will be confused and it’s really misleading.  They will think Sainsbury’s tea is Fairtrade and not know the difference.  What’s next after tea? Bananas? Coffee?  We are disgusted with this scheme which means that the farmers will no longer be able to decide what’s best for them in their communities – some anonymous board in the Uk will decide for them.”

The protests are part of a nationwide campaign supported by CAFOD, Christian Aid, The Women’s Institute, Traidcraft Exchange and Tearfund calling on the supermarket to reconsider this pilot scheme.

The group said, “Wales is the first Fairtrade nation, let’s keep it that way!”

British tea drinkers account for three quarters of Fairtrade tea sales globally, with Sainsbury’s the world’s largest retailer of Fairtrade.

The Fairtrade Foundation was founded in 1992 by a group of charities including CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam and Traidcraft, to create a market of better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for small-scale farmers. The Fairtrade Foundation estimates more than 1.65 million farmer and workers in 74 countries now get a better deal from Fairtrade.

Therese Warwick, South Wales representative of the aid agency CAFOD said: “Buying Fairtrade tea is a proven way to make a difference every time we drink a cup of tea, and the action by our Swansea volunteers shows the mark is wide supported in Swansea and the surrounding areas, and indeed, across the country.”

“Sainsbury’s have been a leading retailer of Fairtrade products, making a real difference to the lives of tea farmers and their families in some of the world’s poorest countries. We’d like them to reconsider this decision to remove the Fairtrade mark from their own-brand tea.”

And why not explore more about becoming a Fairtrade parish?

 

Harvest Fast Day – focus on El Salvador

This Harvest Fast Day we draw inspiration from the Oscar Romero prayer which will be in all the Fast Day packs.

If your parish is holding a Harvest Fast Day collection, the pack will be with all parish priest and parish volunteers in the first week of September.

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Meeting with MP for the Power to Be

Lis Teiser, Dr Jesse Norman, MP and Therese Warwick

On Friday 14 July, members of the LiveSimply group in Monmouth/Ross-on-Wye parishes met with Dr Jesse Norman MP at his surgery in the Larruperz Centre in Ross.

CAFOD recently launched a new campaign during the Climate Coalition’s Week of Action at the beginning of July.  In case you missed it – it’s called the Power to Be.

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Volunteers meet International Partners

Volunteers and staff with some of the country representatives

Volunteers from around the South West region which, in CAFOD terms, includes the Archdiocese of Cardiff and the diocese of Menevia, travelled to St Bonaventure’s parish in Bristol to meet country representatives who are working in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ethiopia.

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