Virtual Pilgrimage to Holy Island with our friends in the North – it’s not too late to join in for a few days…

With the help of parishioners from across the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, CAFOD (@CAFODHN)  is on “virtual” pilgrimage to Holy Island (1-11 July).

The virtual pilgrimage will feature daily reflection and prayer, stories from past pilgrims and will end with a special Mass at 3.00 pm on Saturday 11 July 2020.

For more information visit CAFOD Hexham & Newcastle’s

There’s still time to journey with our friends as they discover the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, through reflections, memories, photographs and prayer.

In the footsteps of saints and in the spirit of CAFOD, get involved. 👇

cafodhexhamnewcastle.wordpress.com 

Pilgrims (from above)

Catholics across the country invited to take part in Holy Island ‘virtual’ pilgrimage (1-11 July)

Caption: Pilgrims making their way to the Holy Island

Many pilgrimages have been cancelled due to lockdown, but that does not mean that you can’t take part in a virtual pilgrimage.

From 1-11 July, everyone is invited to take part in a virtual pilgrimage to the Holy Island, Lindisfarne, as part of CAFOD’s Summer of Hope.

Join the pilgrimage now

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share the Journey at Kidwelly Quay

Parishioners from Holy Cross parish in Pontyberem near Carmarthen chose to make their Share the Journey walk at Kidwelly Quay which is located on the north bank of the Gwendraeth estuary.

We were guided by seasoned CAFOD campaigners, Paul and Stella Westmacott who are enlightened nature lovers and conservationists who embrace a liveSimply lifestyle.

Paul reading one of the refugee stories

And it was no surprise that the location chosen: Kidwelly Quay – is a Special Area of Conservation which attracts large numbers of birds to the sand and mud banks of the Gwendraeth River.

Wednesday 26 July was one of the most glorious Summer evenings we have enjoyed for a long time.

The temperature was still high as we set off at 6.30 pm but the wonderful, peaceful environs: the canal walk, salt marsh creeks with wildlife chirruping out of view, and a fresh-water pond all contributed to a very reflective walk surrounded on all sides by the beauty of creation in all its glory.

The setting we enjoyed was so far removed from that which many of our displaced brothers and sisters are facing around the world.  That very fact heightened the poignancy of the heart-rending stories we shared together.

Share the journey is a global campaign to promote Pope Francis’ “culture of encounter” whose goal is to increase the spaces and opportunities for migrants and local communities to meet, talk and take action.  We want to be welcoming and speak up for the rights of migrants and refugees.

There are many reasons why people migrate. War, persecution, natural disaster and poverty force millions of people from their homes. Most come from poor countries, and seek safety in poor countries nearby.

We cannot turn away. These are human beings with hopes, fears, desires and stories to share, just like each one of us.

Whatever the cause, migration has an impact on the place and the people left behind, the place of transit and the place where people eventually settle.

Pope Francis has declared this moment in time as a ‘unique opportunity’ for us to press our governments to make global commitments which place the human dignity of people on the move at their heart.

Jesus said: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

Every encounter is an experience of otherness.  It begins with recognising that our humanity is made up of different faces, stories and cultures. We carry this diversity within ourselves, while being united by the same dignity.

The violation of human dignity, a founding value of the individual, has unfortunately happened throughout the history of humankind.  It is the most serious evil and the origin of many other evils – from poverty to exclusion, from hoarding of resources to the accumulation of enormous riches in the hands of a few, from violence to wars afflicting millions of humans beings.

To create a true, deep culture of encounter we must ask ourselves above all – as human being and parish communities – how Jesus would relate to the major modern exoduses of refugees and migrants?  How would he respond to the poor people who look for refuge in our communities?

In the Gospel, we see how Jesus meets with marginalised people without any fear.  He enters into the concreteness of their lives, their anxieties and their concerns and he helps them come out of their anonymity.  They are no longer numbers, but faces and real stories.

Today we are facing major challenges, due, among other things, to the unsustainable model of development, a source of growing inequalities, precariousness and forced exoduses of millions of people from their own lands.

Many paradigms known up to today about human existence on the earth have been thrown into crisis: the availability of food, water, energy and natural resources, climate change, migration, inviolability of borders, the different interpretations of democracy, the models of family life and relationships.

Trying to face these challenges and overcome the crisis in a positive way is not simple.  These changes are not only taking place quickly but they are also taking place at the same time, all over the world, and at the same time in the whole world.

The Share the Journey campaign is a start: to walk together in diversity and unity of faiths and religions, growing in reciprocal knowledge and respect , in communion and in common commitment for a fairer and more human world.

Pope Francis outlined a way forward:

“Contemporary movements of migration represent the largest movement of individuals, if not of people, in history.  Our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.  I believe that conjugating these four verbs, in the first person singular and in the first person plural, is today a responsibility, a duty we have towards our brothers and sisters who, for various reasons, have been forced to leave their homeland: a duty of justice, of civility and of solidarity.”

Find out more about the UN agreements on Refugees and Migrants due to be adopted in September and December this year.

We all have a role to play in ensuring that the UN compacts keep human dignity at their heart.   How can you help?  Why not organise a Share the Journey walk in your parish?

If you want to chat about getting involved, please get in touch with us  or email us.

#sharethejourney

 

 

St David’s Priory in Swansea stepped up for Share the Journey

“Hope is what drives the hearts of those who depart,” said Pope Francis on 27 September last year as he opened the Caritas/CAFOD Share the Journey campaign on migration.

 

The Holy Father gave an emotional endorsement for the need to build relationships between migrants, refugees and local communities; saying:

 “It is also what drives the hearts of those who welcome; the desire to meet each other, get to know each other, to dialogue.”

Stuart reading one of the refugee stories

These are the exact sentiments which prompted parishioners, lead by long-standing volunteer, Stuart Harper, from St David’s Priory Church in the centre of Swansea to reach out and organise their own Share the Journey walk and to try to make a positive difference to everyone with experience of migration.

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Justice and Peace walk at Penarth for Share the Journey

On Wednesday, 18 July on a beautifully warm Summer’s evening, the parishes of St Mary’s in Dinas Powys and St Joseph’s in Penarth on the outskirts of Cardiff met together to `Share the Journey’; to walk in solidarity with refugees and migrants.

“Christ asks us to welcome our brother and sister migrants and refugees with arms wide open.”

Share the Journey is a global campaign launched by Pope Francis to stand up for the rights of people on the move. The campaign is about raising awareness of the perilous journeys that refugees and migrants have to make when they are forced to leave their homes due to wars, the impact of climate change on their communities or persecution.

Refugees and migrants are often among the poorest and most vulnerable people.  Most people on the move are coming from poor countries, and most seek safety in nearby poor countries or within their own country’s borders.

The communities who welcome them are often struggling to survive themselves.

Time and again, Pope Francis has returned to the idea of welcoming the stranger – in words but also in practice.

He has lambasted the “globalisation of indifference” on the island of Lampedusa where thousands of migrants landed. He chose to go there on his first visit outside Rome as Pope.

Members of the Penarth community have been very committed to working for justice and peace for many years and once again they stepped up in support of the campaign.

The group heard several powerful stories during the walk which gave us some small insight into the difficulties and choices that migrants and refugees who had come to settle in Cardiff – a City of Sanctuary – had been forced to face.

Being a City of Sanctuary means building a culture of hospitality and welcome and is part of a national movement which offers sanctuary to people fleeing violence or persecution and celebrates the contribution of asylum seekers and refugees to city life.

We reflected on how different their experiences are to our own. The stories that we heard were heart-breaking and sometimes shocking because of the levels of brutality and violence involved.

Some of the walkers knew the individuals personally and could bring us up-to-date with their current situation.

Some were volunteers at Cardiff based Space4U an organisation offering friendship and support, English classes, recreational activities, a simple hot meal, practical support and information. ship and support, Engli

The individual stories were extracts from a published book that the refugees and migrants had written themselves.

The Share the Journey campaign continues until the end of the year.  If you would like to organise a card signing in your parish, or a short walk around your parish church, please get in touch with us.  We’re here to help and support you.

Gracious god, help us each day to live simply, taking small but deliberate steps to preserve the earth’s resources.

Creator God, may the beauty and bounty of this world remind us of your overflowing love for us.

Help us to remember that you made enough for all; teach us to share freely with one another, out of love for you and  our neighbour.
Merciful God, whose son became a refugee and had no place to call his own, look with mercy on all those fleeting from danger, homelessness and hungry.

Bless those who work to bring them relief, inspire generosity in our hearts, and guide all nations towards a world where peace in built on justice and justice is guided by love.  Amen.

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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World gifts are not just for Christmas! Jenny from Porthcawl tells us more…

Parishioners from Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Porthcawl, have been enormously generous in supporting our volunteer Jenny Worthington as she set out to walk the CAMINO Way for CAFOD.

Her mission was to find enough sponsors to reach her goal of funding a CAFOD World Gift – a Health Centre.  This amazing World Gift can pay for the running costs of a life-saving clinic in a remote community.  It keeps the clinic stocked with medicines, medical equipment and even provides petrol for the clinic ambulance, giving vulnerable people vital access to much needed healthcare.

Read Jenny’s moving account in her own words… Continue reading