January exercise: Four reasons to be hopeful for 2017

Mark Chamberlain is a communications officer for CAFOD. Here he shares his four reasons to be hopeful for the year ahead.

CAFOD climate campaign

CAFOD staff members take part in a Climate Campaign outside Westminster Cathedral.

This is a great January exercise: take five minutes to come up with four reasons to be hopeful with the world around us.

I’ll admit right now, it’s not easy. One in every 113 people in the world is now either a refugee, an internally displaced person or an asylum-seeker. Picture the Christmas Eve Mass now – that’s at least one person in the service. If you’ve got a school assembly this week, take a look around. That will probably mean perhaps five of that assembly will be a person who has had to leave their home because they were forced to.

Follow us online and make 2017 the year you speak out against poverty and injustice!

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Step into the Gap: My year with CAFOD

Apply to be part of the Step into the Gap team

Katy (third from left) was part of the 2015/2016 Step into the Gap team.

Applications for Step into the Gap 2017 are now open. Ever wondered what life is like for a gapper? Read on to find out! Katy was part of last year’s team, based at St Mary’s Academy in Lancaster.

In October 2015 I wrote a blog about how I was feeling starting the CAFOD gap year. I was excited, nervous and ready for a unique experience. I got it.

In the last week of August I moved up to Blackpool, into St John Vianney’s Presbytery to start my gap year at St Mary’s Catholic Academy. We lived with the Parish priest, Fr Peter, and it quickly became home away from home. I lived there with Peter and Michelle, the second gapper at St Mary’s, and we had so much fun! Living in the parish we got to socialise and become a part of the parish, they were all so welcoming and lovely.

Find out more about Step into the Gap

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The first Family Fast Day

CAFOD was founded when women from the National Board of Catholic Women, the Catholic Women’s League and the Union of Catholic Mothers organised the first CAFOD Family Fast Day in 1960. Mildred Nevile, who was involved at the time, shares her memories of this key moment in CAFOD history.

Women of the World, with Sr Alicia - CAFOD

The group who organised the first Family Fast Day, with CAFOD’s first partner, Sr Alicia.

When Fast Day first took place, many families saw it as an opportunity to practice giving something up – voluntarily – and for the sake of others.

In the early 1960s, the Catholic community was much less affluent than it is today. Many people had known hardship and poverty and had sympathy for those who were struggling to survive.

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Frequently those opening the envelopes from Fast Day appeals were deeply humbled by the letters that accompanied donations. Continue reading

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Youth leaders: Georgia’s year ahead

CAFOD Youth leader ambassadors 2016-7

CAFOD Youth leader ambassadors 2016-7 (Georgia centre, seated.)

Georgia is a youth leader at The Briars Catholic youth retreat centre. This year she will work with hundreds of young people, enabling them to explore their faith. She has just started a year volunteering with CAFOD as a youth ambassador, championing global justice work in her centre. Here she reflects on her year ahead.

Last week I was fortunate enough to be a part of CAFOD’s ambassador first training programme, in which myself and eight other youth ministers joined forces to work together on how we could further raise awareness on the current refugee crisis.

Write a message of hope to refugees in your parish or your youth group or class. Continue reading

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The long road to peace in Guatemala

At the beginning of a new year, Laura Ouseley in our communications team has been looking into the situation in Guatemala and hoping for a brighter and more peaceful future for Guatemala’s indigenous peoples.

Indigenous women from Alta Verapaz supported by CAFOD’s local Church partner Pastoral Social - Caritas Verapaz

Indigenous women from Alta Verapaz supported by CAFOD’s local Church partner Pastoral Social – Caritas Verapaz

Twenty years have passed since Guatemala’s decades-long internal armed conflict was ended with Peace Accords signed in 1996. An estimated 200,000 civilians were killed or disappeared during the conflict, most at the hands of the military, police and intelligence services.

The 1996 Peace Accords aimed not just to put an end to the conflict, but to address its underlying causes, and to guarantee the rights of victims to truth, justice, reparation and no-repetition.

Find out more about CAFOD’s work in Guatemala

But despite being ‘at peace’ for twenty years, the country remains one of the most dangerous places in the world, and those who suffered most in the conflict – indigenous peoples – continue to face discrimination and poverty. So, what has been achieved over the last 20 years, and have indigenous peoples and women been able to access the justice they were promised?

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Filed under CAFOD, Latin America and Carribean