A tribute to a highly-valued volunteer – RIP Sue Philippart

Susan Philippart

I am finding it difficult to find the right words to describe Sue Philippart – a parish volunteer, education volunteer, campaigner, school teacher and friend in the diocese of Menevia in Wales.

Some of you may know already, that Sue died in the early hours of Wednesday 25 March, following a serious fall – the very same day as her Mum’s (Gerry) funeral at Our Lady, Star of the Sea church in Mumbles, Swansea.

The very last message I had from Sue was on 4 March to let me know that her  “lovely Mum passed away suddenly but peacefully in her sleep on Sunday 23 February, so life has been in turmoil ever since. I know you totally understand as you’ve been through the same yourself.”

Sue at a CAFOD briefing in Swansea with her granddaughter

She went on to say that she was at Mass the week before Lent Fast Day with her father and sisters and a fellow parishioner, Sarah O’Kane

“did my Lent appeal beautifully. Sarah is a beautiful soul.”

Fundraising at Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Mumbles

Sue gave me details of her Mum’s funeral in her parish, Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Mumbles on Tuesday 9 March and that two priests Fr Michael and Fr Mansel Usher (her former parish priest) were con-celebrating the Requiem Mass.

And her last message to me was: “Donations in lieu of flowers are to go to CAFOD.  Would you mind putting my beautiful Mum, Gerardine Mary McNeff, in the Book of Remembrance please.  Lots of love and hugs, Sue xxx”

Tragically, Sue had suffered a fractured skull in the fall and was put into an induced coma in hospital in Cardiff. She had emergency surgery and a request for prayers went out to family, friends, colleagues, pupils, parishioners to pray for Sue to make a full recovery.  Sue was also remembered at our Mass in Romero House.

Sadly it was a few weeks later that  Fr Mansel broke the awful news that Sue had died peacefully in the early hours of the morning. He had been with her and her family.

“May she rest in peace. Amen.”

 

We can only do the work we do at CAFOD because of wonderful volunteers like you.  And Sue really was a volunteer in a million.

Sue Philippart, Gemma Salter, Fr Mansel Usher and Sarah O’Kane

She was beautiful, intelligent, fun-loving, prayerful, reflective, caring, compassionate, supportive – a do-er who put her faith into practical action.

She oozed infectious enthusiasm with her winning smile and can-do attitude.

Mrs Philippart with some pupils after a CAFOD assembly

She was a gifted primary school teacher who will be sorely missed by her colleagues and pupils at St Joseph’s Cathedral School in Swansea where she raised awareness and inspired prayer and action for a more just world.

Share the journey walk from St Joseph’s school to St Joseph’s Cathedral – with Canon Benedict Koledoye (Dean)

She championed CAFOD’s core values: compassion, hope, dignity, solidarity, partnership, sustainability and stewardship with daily acts of kindness and expressions of solidarity and hope.

Sarah O’Kane, Fr Mansel Usher and Sue Philippart

Not only in fundraising activities, but Share the Journey walks in solidarity with refugees and migrants in the Year of Mercy and campaigning with her parish and school children to write powerful messages to the World Bank; her class drew their own sun power pictures to highlight the need for renewable energy for the world’s poorest people so that they can access vital services such as schools and health clinics.

Fairtrade campaign outside Sainsbury’s in Swansea

A talented teacher, Sue was part of the Swansea-Siavonga partnership and visited Zambia with the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms.

Sue with Sr Mary

It was a life-changing trip which also included a visit to a CAFOD project: the St Francis Intergrated Care programme in Zambia where she met Sr Mary Courtney – a religious sister of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa who was the programme co-ordinator. 

Sue was over the moon, and if it was possible to be more supportive of CAFOD, then she was.

Parishioners from OLSS with Geoff O’Donoghue and Fr Michael Apoghiran

CAFOD’s Operations Director, Geoff O’Donoghue, visited Our Lady, Star of the Sea parish and met with Sue and the wonderful group of committed and generous parishioners who support CAFOD’s work with prayer and fundraising. And he wrote to her after his trip to Mumbles to say:

“It was a great pleasure to meet Fr Michael, yourself and all the other supporters at Our Lady’s – it is very energizing to meet the levels of commitment and motivation that were so evident in your parish community and in the concern you have for others.”

Her fellow Education volunteer and good friend from OLSS, Sarah O’Kane sent us this:

“Sue was the CAFOD Parish Rep for Our Lady Star of the Sea in Mumbles and when I joined the Parish in October 2016 I asked if I could do anything to help her…well, as she used to say, the rest is history!

We became a good team, I was constantly inspired by her contagious enthusiasm for CAFOD  (due to which I also became, like Sue, a CAFOD School Volunteer.)

Sue cared deeply about justice, especially where children and education were concerned. She was always ready to go the extra mile, literally in fact, when Sue went to Zambia twice, on British Council exchange visits, she carved out time from an incredibly busy schedule to visit Sister Mary in a project supported by CAFOD. On her return home, Sue persuaded the Parish to earmark funds to continue to support Sister Mary’s Project.

We will all miss Sue’s huge smile, her warmth, her strong faith, her love of life and her wonderful enthusiasm.”

And a fellow Education volunteer in Menevia, Jane Stubbs, added:

I only knew Sue for a short time, but what an impression she made on me. I first met her on the train from Swansea to Cardiff for our CAFOD training. Sarah introduced me, and straight away it was like speaking to a long lost friend, her smile, warmth and enthusiasm for everything we talked about will always stay with me.  

It was a privilege to have known her.

And from Fr Mansel Usher:

During my time as parish priest of Our Lady Star of the Sea, Mumbles, Ms Sue Philippart, who has been a member of the parish all her life, became an invaluable supporter of a number of projects that were either already in existence or were new to the parish.

One of the projects already underway was the parish`s support for CAFOD. When I appealed for volunteers to help raise the profile of CAFOD`s activities both within the parish and within schools, Sue, along with Mrs Sarah O`Kane responded with tremendous enthusiasm.

The parish were already generous supporters of CAFOD but with the help of Sue and Sarah the level of support rose significantly. It was always a delight to work with Sue and Sarah. Any requests for help to promote events such as the Lenten Family Fast Appeals or the Harvest Appeals were always responded to with unconditional generosity.

Her “unconditional generosity” is something that I will sorely miss in our dear departed sister Sue. She is someone I knew I could totally depend upon, someone who would go out of her way to give everything to help support such a worthy cause which she totally believed in.

It is hard to believe Sue is no longer among us. In losing Sue I, like so many people, have lost a very dear friend, a beautiful person of deep, unwavering faith.”

Sue’s family have sent up a fundraising page in her memory with proceeds to CAFOD; she will live on in our work.  We are incredibly grateful to Sue’s father, Chris McNeff and to all her family for thinking of CAFOD at this awfully difficult time. She would be so proud of you all.

St Joseph’s Cathedral School, where Sue taught for many years, has produced a wonderful montage which we share here.

We will forever miss your radiant smile, your unfailing enthusiasm and your warm and loving friendship. Thank you Sue, from us all at CAFOD.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13)

Sue gave all of these in abundance. May she rest in eternal peace.

 

 

 

 

Prayer, chat and learning with CAFOD

Online talks and presentations

While we can’t meet face to face at the moment we would love to see you online.

We hold regular online talks (webinars) so you can hear more about the great work you support, all from your own living room!

Listen to past online talks 

Register for our virtual children’s liturgy

Prayer and chat

Tuesday, 7 April 11 am-12 pm

Come together with us in prayer and reflection, followed by a virtual coffee morning.

Please have a candle ready to light when you join the prayer.

Note: This session will be held on Zoom, you do not need to register just click the link below at the start of the session

Pray with us

Stories from Cyclone Idai – What happened next?

Wednesday, 15 April 1-2 pm

Join CAFOD’s Tiago Coucelo to hear how, with your support, local workers are helping some of the remotest rural communities to rebuild their shattered lives.

Register to join us live, or listen later.

We hope to be able to offer you more opportunities like this to connect with the lives of our sisters and brothers around the world while we spend more time at home.

 

COVID-19 update

Thank you for your patience while we take on board the changing situation with COVID-19 and the incredibly important role you play in support of our development and humanitarian work.

Thanks to your compassion and commitment, we can reach some of the poorest and marginalised communities around the world.

CAFOD is following the advice issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales (CBCEW) as well as the UK government.

All the latest information about CAFOD’s response to COVID-19 will be on our Coronavirus Q & A and COVID-19: Information for volunteers pages.

Get in touch: Your usual office contacts are still be available by mobile phone, email and via social media, so if you have any questions or thoughts do not hesitate to be in touch whatever your query:

Therese Warwick: 01989 768708, mobile: 07823 445112 or email: southwales@cafod.org.uk

If you’re a parent, we have a large range of online education resources tailored specifically for primary and secondary ages, alongside worship and prayer content.

If you’re looking to learn more about CAFOD’s international work, we will be releasing a weekly timetable of online talks.

Meet us online: 
While we can’t meet face to face we would love to see you online.

Stories from Cyclone Idai – What happened next?
Wednesday 15 April, 1-2pm

Join CAFOD’s Tiago Coucelo to hear how, with your support, local workers are helping some of the remotest rural communities to rebuild their shattered lives.

Register to join us live, or listen later.

Continue your Lenten journey with us
Use our resources to continue on your Lenten journey.

Feel-good stories

If you are a CAFOD volunteer and hear of a great story in your local parish – please let us know so we can share it on our social media channels and website.

It would be great if you would be able to email over a few sentences about what happened, along with a photo.

Prayer for the Coronavirus

Even though the volunteer centres are temporarily shut, we hope to be able to continue to offer opportunities to connect with the lives of our sisters and brothers around the world.

Please keep an eye of our social media pages for the latest updates:

Facebook  and Twitter

In the meantime, we continue to pray for all those affected by the COVID-19 virus and the healthcare workers here in the UK and overseas, who are on the frontline of this crisis – and ask that you too join us in keeping them in our thoughts and prayers.

 

Our colleague, Sylvester, in the Birmingham diocese shares his personal experience of a recent trip to Zimbabwe

Map of ZimbabweMuch has been spoken and written about the country of my birth – the country I grew up in.

Childhood memories of Zimbabwe and its beauty remain some of my fondest. I remember the beautiful and majestic Victoria Falls; the incredible architecture and stonework of Great Zimbabwe; and the gorgeous golden sunsets along the Zambezi river.

I think of Jacaranda trees lining either side of the streets. In spring, their bloom created a beautiful purple carpet along the roads. It seemed to me that everyone had a friendly smile – there was a real sense of hope everywhere I went.

These are unforgettable memories.

Sadly, the Zimbabwe I witnessed during a recent three-week visit paints a different picture – a stark, if not bleak, contrast to my memories.

Zimbabwe once boasted an enviable subtropical climate, excellent rainfall seasons and fertile soil, but climate change and spiralling hyperinflation over the last three decades have altered the social and physical landscape of the country.  The once reliable and abundant rains – the backbone of the agricultural sector – have been replaced by long dry spells and extensive droughts. Seventy per cent of Zimbabwe’s population live in the rural areas. They are farmers that rely on agriculture to feed and support their families. Persistent droughts have resulted in little-to-no crop yields and the loss of livestock – the measure of a family’s wealth.

Family collecting water from a small hole in a dry river bed

Zimbabwe’s urban population were mostly unaffected by previous droughts. This too has changed, as daily average temperatures soar. In Harare, the main dam supplying water to all households is below capacity. As a result, running water is limited to just one day each week.

 

Moreover, because of the dire economic situation, Local Councils cannot afford to treat water sufficiently; therefore, the water that does manage to come through the household taps is unsafe to drink. In order to get safe drinking water, most urban families are forced to walk or drive for miles on end, with large containers, to form queues at busy boreholes.

Continue reading

Refresher training day for Schools Volunteers

Our first refresher training day for School volunteers is taking place on Thursday 30 January in the Mostyn Room, adjacent to St David’s Metropolitan Cathedral in Cardiff-.

This is a twice yearly opportunity for our team of school volunteers to come together to look at the new resources for Lent 2020 – both the assemblies and workshops that we offer to schools across the Archdiocese.

Our Education volunteer co-ordinator contacts schools each term to promote our school volunteers and invite them to take up our offer of an assembly or workshops.  We have an amazing range of resources for schools on offer.

The team does a wonderful job in raising awareness of our work.

We couldn’t make the same impact without the generous gift of their time, their enthusiasm and good humour.  Their commitment to CAFOD is inspiring!

This month we are getting ready for Lent 2020.  We’ll be focusing on the Amazon rainforest and the problems of deforestation and protecting human rights.   

We want to help pupils to understand how CAFOD is working with communities around the world to support people defending their rights. And for children to to see the relationship between taking action and supporting communities overseas.

Continue reading

DEPUTY HEAD OF AFRICA TO SPEAK AT ALL SAINTS NEWPORT

You are warmly invited to St Mary’s Stow Hill (All Saints Pastoral Area) – St Mary’s Institute (parish hall), Stow Hill, Newport (NP20 1TP) on Saturday 21 September at 3.30 pm to meet Damian Marchant – deputy Head of Region for Africa at CAFOD – who will give an update on CAFOD’s work around the world.

James joined CAFOD in 2007 and served overseas for seven years in Latin America and three years in Africa. He will give us a snapshot of the complexity of operating in some extremely insecure environments.

CAFOD has worked in sub-Saharan Africa since the 1970s and James currently holds operation responsibility for CAFOD’s overseas programmes in Kenya, Uganda, Niger, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and eSwatini (Swaziland).

James will also cover how CAFOD works hand in hand with the church and how knowledge of the local context allows CAFOD to work with communities in a way that is so inspiring.

Come and hear how your support for CAFOD contributes to positive change in the lives of so many communities.

Free event with tea & coffee available.  Feel free to bring a friend or fellow parishioner.  You will all be welcome.

Mass follows at 4.30 p.m.

Further information from CAFOD South Wales on 02920 344 822 or email: southwales@cafod.org.uk

 

CAFOD AND WORKING WITH OUR CATHOLIC SCHOOLS

You are very welcome to join us on Thursday 19 September 2019 for our termly Education refresher training update which will be held in the Mostyn Room, adjacent to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint David in Cardiff (right next door to M & S).

If you think would like to join our team of volunteers working in the Archdiocese of Cardiff, then get in touch

We’d love to have a chat and invite you in to the volunteer centre in the heart of Cardiff to tell you all about what’s involved.  It’s as little or as much as you want to commit.

Continue reading

Lent 2018 feedback – how your donations are saving lives in Zimbabwe…

When we donate to an appeal – Lent, Harvest or an emergency – or make a regular gift – we all want to know and trust that our money will reach the people who need it most.

Here’s how your compassion and generous support for our Lent appeal in 2018 when you donated a fantastic £4.3 million, which was doubled by the UK government through matched funding, is working to save lives in Zimbabwe.

Fiona and her two children in Zimbabwe (above) will receive a vegetable garden.

Since last year’s Lenten appeal, our local nutrition experts have been working hard to reach the most vulnerable people – children, pregnant women, breastfeeding Mums and older members of the community – and ensure they’re getting a good meal.

So far we’ve reached a total of 4,293 people. And we’re on track to reach 239,000 people across Zimbabwe, Eritrea and Zambia by the end of 2021.

One year on from our 2018 appeal, we revisit some of the people you met last year in Zimbabwe.

A vegetable garden for the Mudzemeti family

When we met Fiona, she was worried about her youngest son Pardon, who was showing signs of malnutrition. But Fiona and her husband Peter have just received the good news that their village will be receiving a vegetable garden.

Read more about Fiona

Continue reading

Musical concert for CAFOD at Belmont Abbey

A charity concert held at Belmont Abbey and performed by pupils from St Mary’s RC  High School in Lugwardine, Hereford has raised more than £500 for CAFOD.

The event on Thursday 11 April brought the total raised for CAFOD since 2013 to an impressive £20,000.

The spring concert  took place in a new venue this year – the beautiful Pugin designed monastery at Belmont Abbey.

Pupils from across the school performed a mixture of orchestral pieces, instrumental ensembles and solo pieces.

Parents, friends and teachers were joined by monks from the Benedictine community, sharing in the experience of the wonderful acoustics that Belmont Abbey provides.

Continue reading

Schools giving it up to transform lives

Yr 4 from St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea presenting the Give It Up assembly to the whole school!

Pupils from across the Archdiocese of Cardiff (including Menevia & Herefordshire) have given up some of their favourite things this Lent to help communities around the world who have been affected by climate change, as part of this year’s Give It Up Lent fundraising campaign.

In assemblies presented by our wonderful school volunteer team, children heard about the challenges that Mahinur and her family in Bangladesh are facing.

Mahinur lives by a river with her husband Khalek and 12-year-old son Rabiul, who both have disabilities. She relies on fishing in the river to support her family, but last year it dried up and all the fish died.

The fish have not returned. Some days the family just drink water for dinner. This is not right. God has given enough resources on this planet for everyone.

No one should go hungry.  So how how to inspire children to recognise need and to be motivated to help?

The idea is a simple one:  choose something, give it up and donate the money saved to CAFOD. Continue reading