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.

 

 

 

 

Souper Soup Lunch in Tenby

The Ladies Guild: sterling soup makers!

On Sunday 13 October, the Ladies Guild at Holyrood & St Teilo parish in Tenby presented a wonderful array of tasty soups to tempt parishioners as they came into the hall to support CAFOD’s Harvest appeal.

Seven fantastic soup choices included minestrone, tomato, lentil and chorizo, spicy butternut squash, leek and potato, red pepper and butternut squash and pumpkin and potato,

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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

Upcoming events

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

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

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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Swansea parishioners Lenten fundraiser helps fight hunger across the world

Gemma Salter (far left) with parishioners from Our Lady, Star of the Sea

Swansea parishioners have hosted a ‘family fast day’ and welcomed back a Swansea woman who spoke about her time visiting communities in Zimbabwe who will be helped by this year’s CAFOD Lent fundraising campaign.

Last Friday, parishioners from Our Lady Star of the Sea in Swansea hosted a Family Fast day – a day where communities enjoy a simple meal and donate the money saved to charity- and welcomed back Gemma Salter, a local woman who now works for the international aid agency, CAFOD.

During the event, they heard Gemma speak about her experiences visiting Zimbabwe and enjoyed a simple meal to fundraise for the charity.

Gemma said: “I never pass up the chance to visit my home town! So I was delighted to be invited to speak in Swansea. But more than that, it was a chance to share some of the incredible stories I heard on my trip to Zimbabwe.”

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

The community’s efforts will help fund agricultural training, education and clean water projects for communities living in poverty. And, in an added boost, all donations to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal, up to £5 million, will be doubled by the UK government up until 12 May. Continue reading