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.

 

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

Remembering in November

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?

 

Sowing seeds at St Joseph’s parish in Neath

The theme of sowing seeds was taken literally at St. Joseph’s parish in Neath this Autumn.

During the Harvest Mass led by St Joseph’s Primary School on 8th October, in thanksgiving for God’s generosity to us, provision was made for those in need both near and far.

A number of heavy carrier bags were presented at the Offertory for sharing between the local foodbank and the Sisters of Charity in Swansea; and the CAFOD Harvest Fast Day collection was taken up at the end of the celebration in support of farmers like Edelmira in El Salvador.

Following the Mass, a number of children and adults made their way to Our Lady’s Grotto where they generously scattered wildflower seeds in prepared areas of ground.

In the Summer of 2018 we hope that these seeds will grow into not only a colourful feast for human eyes, but also produce an abundance of nectar for many bees and other vital pollinators.

Time will tell…

Read how your Harvest Fast Day donations are spent. 

 

Thank you to Sandra Davies for sending through this lovely report.

The Missionaries of Charity do great work in the City of Swansea. They are based at 235, The Strand, SA1 2AW.  Every day they feed the homeless of Swansea and can accommodate 12 people every night who need a place to sleep. It was the last overseas house that Mother Teresa herself opened.

Planting the seeds for Harvest Fast Day

Parishioners from Holy Name, Fishguard at the Harvest briefing

Blessed Oscar Romero regularly preached how:

“God wants a society where we share the good things that God has given for all of us.”

And at Harvest, we share God’s abundance with our neighbours.

“We plant the seeds that one day will grow.”

Continue reading

Swansea campaigners stage Sainsbury’s protest over threat to Fairtrade tea

Sally, Stuart, Paul, Stella and Sue

Swansea and Pontyberem residents have delivered a letter of protest to the Sainsbury’s Superstore in Quay Parade to challenge the supermarket’s decision to abandon the Fairtrade mark on some of its own-brand tea in favour of its own scheme.

On Friday 1 September, CAFOD campaign volunteers took to the streets of Swansea to raise awareness of Sainsbury’s decision to replace the Fairtrade Mark on its Red Label and other selected teas with its own `fairly traded’ version.

Continue reading

Menevia parishes adding their voices to energy campaign

Parishioners from Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Mumbles

In August, parishioners from Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Mumbles and Our Lady, Queen of Peace in Llanelli and Holyrood and St Teilo in Tenby have been adding their support to CAFOD’s Power to Be campaign which is raising awareness of the power of the sun when it is harnessed as a renewable energy source – producing electricity in developing countries.

Parishioners signed campaign cards after Mass in both parishes.  Many thanks to Fr Mansel Usher, Fr James Sweeney and Fr Hart (standing in for Fr Michael Fewell) for their support in getting this important message out to a wider audience.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Campaigning in Cardiff and Menevia

Campaign co-ordinators -Paul, Stella (Menevia), John (Cardiff) and Therese (Herefordshire)

On Monday 22 May, our new Campaign co-ordinators met in the Cardiff Volunteer Centre to look at the new Power to Be campaign and how we would like more of our parish communities in Cardiff and Menevia to put their faith into action by getting involved in campaigning on behalf of the world’s poorest communities.

Stella Westmacott and her husband Paul, have a wealth of knowledge about environmental issues and based in the lovely parish of Holy Cross, Pontyberem near Carmarthen.  John Fellows is our go-to campaigner in the Metropolitan Cathedral in Cardiff where he is parishioner.

We are looking to get as many people as possible involved in CAFOD’s next week of action on climate change, coming up from 1- 9 July 2017.

We are here to help encourage and support people to organise local events during the week, and if possible, inviting their newly elected local MP to join them.

CAFOD exercises strong and transparent stewardship of your donations to ensure that the money reaches the communities in most need.

But campaigning is an intrinsic part of our work.  We need to raise awareness of the root cases of poverty and the structures that keep people in poverty.  Sadly climate change hit the world’s poorest communities first and hardest.

So we are looking for volunteers to help with the Power To Be campaign.  It’s a sad fact but one in six people in the world are still living without electricity. The hopes of millions of children are too often a distant dream.

Kieran O’Brien with Campaign co-ordinators

Here are the answers to many frequently asked questions.

There are many ways to get involved and Stella, John and Therese will be contacting parishes across the dioceses to ask if you can get involved.

If you would like more information before their call, then please get in touch.

The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating for farming. Pope Francis (Laudato Si’ #51)