First Share the Journey walk in Herefordshire

War, persecution, natural disasters and poverty force millions of people from their homes.

Most come from poor countries and seek safety in other poor countries nearby.

Dispelling myths about refugees and migrants is something we can all help with.

And this was how parishioners from St Frances of Rome church in the beautiful market town of Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire responded to Pope Francis’ call to welcome refugees and migrants with open arms.

Altar servers, twin brothers, Tom & Gerry

The liveSimply group in the parish organised a Share the Journey walk around the buggy route in the town, to coincide with the end of Refugee Week.

Before setting off, parish priest, Father Nicholas James, blessed the entire congregation as well as the group of walkers.

At the end of their journey, the group had totted up 40 miles which has been added to CAFOD’s online totaliser for Share the Journey.

It is a shocking fact that at the end of last year, 68.5 million people were displaced around the world due to persecution, conflict or violence.

Few us can even imagine being at home and suddenly have to escape with our family and leave absolutely everything we own behind.

We can try to imagine setting off on a long journey to find a new home.  Not knowing how long we will be walking, when we will next eat or where we can rest.

Alone and afraid, there is now doubt that we would welcome someone to reach and talk to us, to share the journey with us.

But this was just like Dilda’s journey.  She fled from Myanmar to escape violence in her village.

She says: “We didn’t bring a thing.  We just grabbed the children and ran.”

Dilda left everything behind.  Her home, her possessions, everything – for a temporary shelter on the side of the road.

Her children are scarred by what they have seen.

We cannot cross by on the other side while our neighbours are struggling.

The church has been at the forefront of reaching out to refugees and migrants but so far our world leaders are not meeting the challenge.

Alongside Catholics around the world, we are asking them to step up.

Parishes, schools around the country can help to send a powerful message to world leader who are drawing up new global agreements at the UN in September and December this year.

How?  By sharing the journey.  By joining us on a walk.  Not just any walk, but a walk around the world.

The target was 24,900 miles – the distance around the whole world.

But we’ve achieved that already!!

We are walking around the world a second time…

CAFOD will  use the #sharethejourney walks and card signings in parishes and schools to demonstrate our solidarity with people on the move to our Prime Minister, Theresa May, to our local MPs and the government.

We hope to influence the UN so that the new agreements will respect human dignity; protect the vulnerable; support host countries; keep families together and tacked the reasons why people migrate.

Please consider signing the online petition today to ask the UN to agree compassionate agreements which respect human dignity of all people.

If you would like to know more about organising a walk in your parish or school, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and we’d be delighted to support you.  You can order action cards here.

Loving God, You walk with those searching for a better life.  May we work together to share the journey and offer everyone a loving welcome. Amen.

 

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.

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Volunteers meet International Partners

Volunteers and staff with some of the country representatives

Volunteers from around the South West region which, in CAFOD terms, includes the Archdiocese of Cardiff and the diocese of Menevia, travelled to St Bonaventure’s parish in Bristol to meet country representatives who are working in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ethiopia.

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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)

 

Creating beauty in Brecon

We’ve talked a lot about Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato si’ – on climate and justice which asks us all:

“to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home”

In the parish of St Michael in Brecon, parishioners really responded to Pope Francis’ call to action “to be protectors of God’s handiwork” which he says is essential to a life of virtue.  It’s not an optional nor a secondary aspect of our Christian experience (#217)

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CAFOD in the summer term in schools

David Brinn (trainer) Sue, Chris, John (Cardiff volunteers) and  Jane, Sue and Sarah (Menevia volunteers)

Our team of education volunteers across Cardiff and Menevia had a joint day of working on Monday 15 May when they met together in the Cardiff volunteer centre.

The purpose of the refresher training was to bring together all our wonderful volunteers – experienced and newly-recruited, to explore the resources which we are using in schools during the Summer term and beyond.

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Lent Fast Day is today!

Today – March 10 – is Lent Fast Day.

In this year’s Lenten appeal we are learning about Florence – a 41 year old widow with two children, living in Zambia.  Florence wanted to learn about fish farming and received training from CAFOD’s partner, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary.

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Menevia schools get Fishy for Lent

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St Mary’s Primary School, Pembroke Dock on Valentine’s Day

It’s been a busy time for our Schools volunteers team as they have been out and about visiting schools across the Archdiocese.

In Menevia, on Valentine’s Day St Mary’s Primary School in Pembroke Dock welcomed us into school to learn all about how a fish farming project in Zambia is transforming lives – the children loved the video of Bob, the fish that’s he size of your thumb!p1150290

We also talked about Green Hearts for Valentine’s Day.  We were making and sharing a green heart to show our love for our world and how much we need to take care of it to reduce the impact of climate change. #ShowTheLove

The whole school assembly was followed up by a Lampedusa Cross pilgrimage with Years 4, 5 and 6.

Many of our neighbours around the world struggle to make ends meet.  They don’t even have enough money to buy the basics in life that we take for granted – like food, a home and clothes.

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Laudato Si’ workshop with St Teilo’s Primary School

 

On Monday 27 February, just before Lent started, St Teilo’s Primary school in Tenby learned how we can help to change this by joining with other schools across England and Wales to Turn little fish into Big fish in the whole school assembly.

Morning assembly was followed by a workshop for Year 5  and 6 exploring Laudato Si’  The Pope’s encyclical discusses the damage being inflicted on the Earth by humans and calls on ‘every person living on this planet’ to make urgent changes to our lifestyles and how we consume energy in order to protect the planet.

Take a look at our Laudato Si’ animation.

The day after Lent began, we travelled to St Joseph’s Junior School in Port Talbot to share the story of Florence’s transformation through fish farming with the help of CAFOD’s partners in Zambia.

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St Joseph’s Junior School, Port Talbot

After break Year 5 and Year 6 also followed the Lampedusa Cross pilgrimage action – and wrote some beautiful and poignant messages of hope for refugees.

The following day we were delighted to meet pupils at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Neath.  One of our newest school volunteers, Jane, delivered the Lent Fast Day assembly and was delighted with interest in CAFOD at the school.  She was particularly delighted to learn that St Joseph’s is an “eco friendly” school which strives to recycle as much waste as possible and encourages healthy snacks for children such as fruit, which is not packaged which helping us all to care for our common home.

schoolchildrenWe are always on the look out for more people to join our growing team of Education volunteers in Menevia.

Does this appeal to you?

Please get in touch if you would like some further details.

We all feel that it is such a rewarding role and a real privilege to work with the young people and dedicated staff in our Catholic schools in the diocese.

 

Fairtrade Fortnight

fairtradeWales is a Fairtrade country.  Indeed was the first Fairtrade nation in the world! Now that’s something to shout about…

This year Fairtrade Fortnight runs from Monday 27 February until Sunday 12 March.

The food on our tables, the tea and coffee in our mugs, all come from farmers around the world who toil, sweat and slog.

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