Retired South Wales Teacher Receives Blessing From Pope for 25 Years of Volunteering

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On Sunday 6th October, Sandra Davies was awarded a Papal Blessing in recognition of her dedicated volunteering and commitment to CAFOD.

Sandra Davies presented with an unexpected Papal Blessing

A former Port Talbot teacher, Sandra Davies, has been presented with an award from Pope Francis for her 25 years of volunteering and helping to educate others on development issues. To the surprise and delight of the congregation, Fr Neil Evans presented the award on behalf of Pope Francis at the end of Sunday Mass on Sunday 6th October at St Joseph’s Church in Neath.

The church was beautifully decorated for Harvest and over 70 parishioners, keen to support Sandra and all she has done, attended Mass, which was beautifully led by pupils from St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Neath. There was joyous singing, thanksgiving hymns, contributions for the local food bank and a superb celebration cake made by a fellow parishioner, Desiree Nicholas.

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Thanking Sandra’s meaningful and life-saving work

After Mass, Sandra shared her experience of volunteering with us and thanked everyone who attended. She was described by our South Wales representative, Therese Warwick, as “a very modest and self-effacing person with a heart of gold who has quietly got on with supporting Fr Neil Evans”. We are incredibly grateful for her unwavering support over the years.

“Sandra has a long history of working to educate children and young people about issues that affect global communities – and has helped people in the local community to better understand the issues that are facing some of the poorest communities around the world.”

From everyone at CAFOD, we want to say a massive congratulations to Sandra for her Papal Blessing- it is truly well-deserved.

We wouldn’t be able to continue our work around the world without admirable volunteers like Sandra. She has done everything from speaking at school to fundraising, taking part in charity events and campaigning, and it was wonderful to see everyone support her on this special day.

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How can you get involved?

We have over 5,000 volunteers across England and Wales who help to educate, campaign and raise their voice on issues affecting some of the poorest communities in the world. Whether you have been with us for years or you’re just starting your journey, get involved by visiting cafod.org.uk/volunteering or email southwales@cafod.org.uk.

First Creation Celebration Mass in Menevia

On Saturday 25 July Our Lady, Star of the Sea parish in Burry Port hosted a Creation Mass at their 6.30 evening service.  The celebrant was the parish priest Fr Martin Donnelly.  The church was transformed into the Garden of Eden by Fr Martin to reflect the beauty and wonder of creation. This included the altar being festooned with animals and clouds, the sun, the moon and stars provided by the local school being hung nearby.

As parishioners and invited guests arrived for the Saturday Vigil they witnessed the transformation and listened to bird song until Mass began.

Fr Martin explained the importance holding a special Creation Celebration Mass and remembering how God had entrusted the care of Creation to us.  He also stressed the importance of listening to Pope Francis; in Laudato Si‘ the Holy Father has described how our beautiful planet has been despoiled and exploited for profit. We all need to value Creation.

“Creation is the order of love.  God’s love is the fundamental moving force in all created things.”  Laudato Si #77

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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

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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

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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Former Step into the Gap volunteer from Wales meets Pope Francis

 

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Eleanor met Pope Francis at the Vatican

A former CAFOD Step into the Gap volunteer and Swansea University graduate has been specially selected to travel to a prestigious conference in Rome where she met with Pope Francis.

Eleanor Margetts, who grew up in Bridgend and attended Archbishop McGrath Catholic Comprehensive School, has previously spent some time volunteering in the CAFOD South Wales office in Cardiff. It was through this volunteering experience that Eleanor originally heard about and applied to attend the conference.

Read about Eleanor’s story on the CAFOD website

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November Memorial Masses in Cardiff and Menevia

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The dates for the Memorial Masses in November, the month of remembrance, are finalised.

In Menevia, the Mass will be celebrated at The Sacred Heart Church in Morriston, Swansea – on Friday 11 November at 7.15 (brief presentation on the Lampedusa Cross) and Mass at 7.30 pm.

In Cardiff the Mass will be at St Joseph’s in Penarth – Friday 25 November at 7 pm.  Refreshments will be available after Mass.

Traditionally November is when we make extra time to remember those who have died – especially family, friends and those who have left a lasting impression in our lives.

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Speaking up for CAFOD and 12,000 feet up in the Andes

Bernadette, Sue (Mumbles) Paul &  Stella (Pontyberem) and Sandra (Neath) with a Lampedusa Cross at the Swansea briefing (Mary from St David's is missing from the photo)

Two parishes in Menevia – St David’s Priory Church in Swansea and Our Lady, Queen of Peace in Llanelli hosted Fast Day briefings for some of our dedicated volunteers earlier this month.

This year the country of focus for Harvest is Bolivia.

It’s a landlocked country in central South America and one third of the country is the Andean mountain range.

It’s the poorest country in South America.

The Altiplano is a vast, inhospitable plain almost 4,000 metres above sea level.

The soil is poor quality because the area is incredibly arid.  The climate is changing and becoming increasingly unpredictable. Continue reading

Wedding bells for our office volunteer

JR Diaz and his new wifeWe are delighted to see JR Diaz, our office volunteer from the Cardiff office, say “I do” to his beautiful bride at a moving ceremony in St David’s Metropolitan Cathedral on Saturday 16 July.

JR, a keen pianist who is very active in music ministry within the church, enjoyed a wide range of hymns and songs throughout the wedding service, making it a really moving ceremony and a memorable event for the couple as well as all the guests. Continue reading

Volunteering in the Year of Mercy

UK - Southwark - Lampedusa Cross - Refugees - St George''s Cathedral - Leah Parker-Turnock.JPGCAFOD is a charity built upon the values and teachings of Catholic faith; volunteering with CAFOD can be an expression of faith, especially in the Year of Mercy. Elouise Hobbs reflects on these thoughts at the end of Volunteers Week.

During the Year of Mercy, I have been reflecting on the tireless work of our volunteers to change the lives of people who live in some of the poorest communities in the world. Our volunteers bridge the gap to help solve the poverty crisis’ by praying, acting and giving in so many different ways. Volunteers Week is a perfect time to say thank you and look at how the Jubilee of Mercy calls us to act.

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