Category Archives: CAFOD Birmingham

Key Volunteers Away Day

On the 11th July eighteen of the Archdiocese of Birmingham’s CAFOD volunteers gathered (in spite of the pouring rain) at Manresa House, the Jesuit Residence in Harborne, Birmingham, for an annual Away Day. The day began with a time of reflection in which each person was invited to light a candle and express their hopes of what the day would bring. While some hoped for a recharging of their spiritual batteries, others wanted to learn more about CAFOD’s work. Some said they were just happy to be with a group of people who have in common the desire for a more just world.

Geoffrey Chongo, a visitor from the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection in Zambia, was the first speaker of the day. The JCTR is a research, education and advocacy organisation that promotes study and action on issues linking Christian faith and social justice in Zambia. Its main research focuses are key social issues like the cost of living, social implication of debt servicing, accessibility of healthcare and education, and integrity of local democracy and it was on this theme that Geoffrey’s talk, concerning the impact that Chinese intervention is having in Zambia, was based upon. This fascinating talk ended with an impromptu debate concerning the necessities and hindrances of Chinese presence, a discussion of the long term effects on Zambia both economically and politically and even a proposition of whether the situation constituted a continuation of colonialism. Geoffrey was then presented with a quilt (shown above) made by pupils at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Brierley Hill, by CAFOD volunteer Raphael Agbor Ebot who visited the school earlier this year. The pupils had hoped that the quilt would be given to a community supported by CAFOD, and have now been told that it will be taken to Zambia as a message of solidarity and friendship.

 After a hearty shared lunch it was back to the sitting room of Manresa House for a discussion lead by Geoff O’Donoghue, CAFOD’s International Director. Geoff talked about the crucial interdependence between the lives of people all over the world, in both developed and developing countries. Thinking of the ‘butterfly effect’, Geoff spoke of how reaching upwards or downwards towards a fairtrade item on a shop shelf can make a real difference to the life of someone who grew or produced that item, thousands of miles away. Giving to charity is vital, he said, but it will never be enough if that is all we do. We must be part of the change, in how we choose to live.

We are always looking for new people to join our friendly volunteer team, who come from all parts of our diocese. If you are interested, do contact us to find out more on 01922 722 944 or

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The Great Birmingham Run!

CAFOD is once again seeking runners to run the Great Birmingham Run, on Sunday 21st October. Last year 10 amazing people ran the 13.1 miles in aid of CAFOD and this year we would love to have even more! Please contact us for a sponsorship pack, running vest and support with raising funds and gaining publicity for your efforts. As the event is televised on Channel 5, this is a great opportunity to get CAFOD running vests seen by many. So getting your legs in action for a great cause and enter the race via the Great Birmingham Run Website!

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Oxfordshire Youth Mass

In Oxford yesterday, the month began with a CAFOD Youth Mass organised by Trisha Dufficy from BCYS and Helen Hurrell from the Portsmouth diocese, in partnership with Amy Fox CAFOD Diocesan Officer (Youth). The day was a chance for the young people of Oxfordshire to come and have fun, discuss important global issues and worship together.

The day began with ice breakers with the young people getting to know each other with Jambo before going onto consider how many people, in how many different countries, they had relied on before they had even finished breakfast that morning, through Global Connections. Everyone then got into teams for a Reality Relay, for which they had to make their own football from carrier bags and string before starting.

The young people then got a taste of a microcosm of reality when they took on the characters of young people in countries where CAFOD works and tried to bid for things they needed in the World Values Auction. The soundtrack to the game quickly became constant shouts of ‘That’s not fair!’ as Jonathan from the UK consistently outbid everyone else, even for things that he didn’t need.

After that light hearted dose of global reality the attendees then turned their thoughts towards possible responses to injustice. To aid this, raps written by young people in Colombia and Kenya were listened to, as they tackled issues such as conflict and inequality which the lyricists face on a daily basis. Inspired by these, the young people then used their experiences from the World Values Auction, together with a selection of newspaper cuttings and extracts from the day’s readings, to think about the issues that mattered to them and to create their own raps,  to be performed as bidding prayers during Mass. Here are some examples for the next time you’re laying down some worship with Kanye or Jayz:


Poverty is bad blud,

very, very sad blud.

Rich people are greedy,

we’re very needy.

They don’t share:

it ain’t fair.

Lord hear our prayer.

Lord hear our prayer.


There is a hedgehog that is stuck inside a can.

It could be female or maybe a man.

It would have not happened if they put it in the bin.

Harming animals is a sin.

We should look after God’s environment.

We’ve been given this world. Take care – that’s a requirement.

God loves us all – he’ll never go into retirement.

Mass was then celebrated by Fr. Paul King, with an inspiring homily about the need for us all to do our one particular thing, however small, to make a difference as well as some brilliant singing by Lexie and Tori. The day was finished off perfectly with delicious soup and rolls prepared by Janet Farnsworth.

A big thank you to all the young people, Trisha, Helen and Janet for their hard work, to Fr. Paul for celebrating Mass and generally getting stuck in, and Fr. Naz, Kathleen and Joice for help, support and participation.

If you would like Amy or one of our volunteers to visit your parish to run a session, or if you are a youth leader in the Birmingham Diocese and you would like to inspire your young people to put their faith into action by engaging in global justice, we can provide advice, resources, training or even tailor-made sessions. Please get in touch with Amy on 01922 722944 or e-mail

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An Olympic Day of Activities at St Thomas of Canterbury

On Sunday 24th June Amy Fox was in Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, to run an Olympic activities day at St Thomas of Canterbury. She was joined by a small by enthusiastic group of families from St Thomas of Canterbury and St Christopher’s. Following Mass, the families enjoyed tea and coffee and a medal worthy test of Olympic knowledge. With most families gaining gold for their efforts, especially concerning the tricky question of the beginning of the marathon as an Olympic event:

1)      What event brought about the first marathon?

a)   In 490 BCE, Pheidippides, a Greek soldier, ran 25 miles from the town Marathon to Athens to inform the Athenians of the outcome of a battle with the invading Persions. After telling the townspeople of the Greeks’ success in the battle, Pheippides fell to the ground dead. In 1896, at the first modern Olympic Games, there was a race  of the same length held in commemoration

b)   In 1896, during the first modern Olympic games, Thansis Papatheodorou was forced to run to and from his hometown, Athens in order to compete, as he was unable to finance any other method of travel. After his victory in the 10,000 metres the Olympic committee, in honour of his strength and determination, decided to create a new event named by combining the Greek translation of these two words – marathon.

c)   In the 1924 Olympics Benjamin Collins and Klaus Schaffer tied for first place in the 10,000 metres. Both, unable to accept the draw, then suddenly began to run around the track again, with Collins eventually winning. Though the impromptu rematch was ignored it alerted the Olympic committee to the possibility of a longer race being held. One that was eventually named after the Greek words for its increased length.

Yet even a few doctors, who were attending, crashed and burned over the hurdle of a question about the reason why Ethiopian runner Haile Gebrselassie holds his arm crooked when he runs:

2)  Ethiopian runner Haile Gebrselassie, winner of two Olympic gold medals, has a very distinctive running style as his left arm is crooked. Is the reason for this that:

a)   An accident as a teenager left his left arm badly broken and, due to insufficient medical treatment, it did not heal correctly. Due to this Gebrselassie cannot stretch his arm out fully or hold it in a straight, high position when his muscles are tensed

b)   Gebrselassie had to run 10km to school every morning, and back every evening; the crook in his arm is a consequence of him having to carry his books during these journeys

Then came a shared lunch followed by some CAFOD sports icebreakers. The families made a football from carrier bags to play ‘All to Play For’ – a game of handball set in the Kenyan slum of Korogocho and based on the experiences of the talented young people who live there. The game looks past the competition from 205 countries around the world battling it out in over 300 events to the bigger challenge of tackling the reasons why poverty exists. This gave the day a very thought provoking and entertaining end.

A big thank you to the parishioners who attended; and for giving donations, towards CAFODs work, that came to a total of £100. As well as a big thank you to Chris Walker for organising the event and to Fr Dominic and the parish for hosting.

If you would like Amy or one of our volunteers to visit your parish to run a session, or if you are a youth leader in the Birmingham Diocese and you would like to inspire your young people to put their faith into action by engaging in global justice, we can provide advice, resources, training or even tailor-made sessions. Please get in touch with Amy on 01922 722944 or e-mail

Answers to the questions: Question 1 – a. Question 2 – b.

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A Day of Vocations at Trinity Catholic School

On Thursday 21st June Amy Fox, CAFOD Diocesan Officer (Youth) and Emily Heaven (Youth Volunteer) took part in a Vocations Day at Trinity Catholic School in Leamington Spa. The school had set aside an entire day for year 9 students to reflect upon vocations. Along with CAFOD, the students were presented with the Priesthood, the Novitiate, vocations in the community led by two members of the police force, and personal vocations.

The day began with a Mass in which Cannon Edward Stuart preached a sermon about Saint Aloysius Gonzaga the Patron Saint of Teenagers. Though the students would probably not have found Gonzaga’s self flagellation a path to follow, the Saint’s determination and commitment to the vocation he had chosen was a good source of inspiration for the rest of the day.

As CAFOD was presenting a vocation to global justice, Amy’s session began with a world statistics icebreaker. This entailed the students being given a card with a certain number of people on it and having to match it with a fact about the world, such as the number of children who will not go to school this year. This prompted a discussion in all the sessions as all the groups found the statistics shocking. The main ones being that 2.5 billion people have no access to sanitation and that 2.5 billion people live on less than £1 a day, with many of the students expressing disbelief that anyone could survive on such means.

This easily transitioned into a discussion of why CAFOD workers themselves want to work for global justice, with Amy herself describing her belief in the horrifying unfairness of the statistics shown in comparison to the average western lifestyle and how this motivates her to help create change. To explain this Amy used the story of the Good Samaritan which then led onto an activity concerning CAFOD’s basis in Catholic values in which the students were given a number of quotes from scripture and Catholic social teaching and asked to link them with CAFOD’s values – hope, compassion, solidarity, sustainability, stewardship, dignity, and partnership.

This concluded with an explanation of why specifically CAFOD should be considered for a vocation towards global justice. To do this Amy presented an entertaining story perfectly encapsulating why partnership with countries is fundamental to CAFOD’s working ethos:

Once upon a time, in a great valley in Africa, there lived a little monkey. Every year the valley was flooded and when the waters came all the wildlife fled. Everything that would run, ran, everything that could fly, flew, and everything that could climb, went to the top of the tallest trees. During one of these floods the little monkey was at the top of one of these trees, watching houses, branches, rocks etc all wash past, when he spotted a little fish. The fish was struggling to swim against the current and looked like it was going to be crush by debris at any moment. The little monkey, surged with compassion, decided he was not just going to sit and watch and began to climb down the tree to help the fish. Though his tree was being knocked back and forth from the wind the little monkey was determined. When he couldn’t reach the fish from the lowest branch the monkey held onto the tree with his tail and lowered himself into the water. By doing this the monkey successfully grabbed the fish and raced back up the tree. Here the monkey felt pleased and proud of his selfless actions as he placed the fish on a branch where he was out of harm’s way. The End.

The day was a great success, with a great reaction and level of involvement from the students, and CAFOD would like to thank Trinity Catholic School for the invitation and Teresa Castelino for organising the event.

If you are a young person who would like to become more involved with CAFOD, or find out more information about global justice as a vocation, please visit the Great Generation pages on CAFOD’s website:, like the CAFOD Great Generation Facebook page and follow us on Twitter – “Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” (Nelson Mandela, 2005)

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