Speaking at Mass: telling real stories of real people

CAFOD young leader practices Lent Fast Day talk
A CAFOD young leader practices the Lent Fast Day talk

Each Fast Day, hundreds of CAFOD volunteers arrange to speak at Masses about how CAFOD is making a difference overseas. Jed Murphy, a volunteer from the Southwark diocese, is one of these volunteers.  He shares with us how he started volunteering and his top tips for a successful Fast Day talk.

Just over seven years ago I had one of those life-changing moments. I had a day’s annual leave and was lazing on my couch at home. Around me was every conceivable gadget you could think of:  large TV, games console, several tablets & smartphones.  And I thought to myself:  I have all this and yet so many people around the world have nothing.   I could not help but think it wasn’t right.

I felt that something had to change. I had to try and do something to make a difference.

I had grown up with CAFOD. I knew that they helped people in need around the world: but I knew little more than that.  So I found the CAFOD website, learned a little more about what they did and clicked on a link to apply to be a volunteer.   I wasn’t sure what I could do, or how I could help.

As part of the process I met one of the regional volunteer managers. His name was Jim and he was amazing.  One of the things that he suggested was whether I would be willing to speak at Masses and make the appeal in support of CAFOD’s Lent and Harvest Fast Days.

And I have been doing that for the last seven years.

As a volunteer speaker one of the things we do is make appeals at those parishes that don’t have a regular CAFOD contact of their own. When I first started volunteering, that was a little daunting – speaking at an unfamiliar parish and meeting lots of new people. But every single person I have met over the years has been so welcoming and lovely – and every parish priest has made me a cuppa between Masses.

CAFOD volunteer speaker Jed Murphy speaks at Lent and Harvest Fast Days
Volunteer speaker Jed Murphy

Find out about what our volunteers are talking about this Fast Day.

And there are two great highlights as a speaker. The first is when you get a round of applause from the congregation at the end of the appeal.  That’s an amazing feeling.  The second is learning how much money was raised as a result of the talk.  For me that’s about making that difference that enables CAFOD to help those less fortunate around the world.

At the beginning of each appeal I always introduce myself and make sure that people know I am a volunteer. I always hope that if people know that I am giving my time freely and that I am here because I believe in the work that CAFOD does, then they may listen just a little more intently and perhaps give just a little more.

Over the years I’ve put together a little checklist for speaking at Mass that might be helpful for others:

  • I always call the parish in the week before the talk – to introduce myself and make sure all the posters and donation envelopes have been delivered
  • I check whether there will be a collection during/after Mass (or perhaps even the following week) and then weave that message in the talk. It’s important that people know the best way they can take action
  • I try and make the words my own – I always edit the CAFOD talk to make it feel more natural for me to say. I’ll even edit it after the first talk if certain passages felt overly wordy or I felt that people weren’t listening to a certain section

    CAFOD Fast Day appeal envelopes
    A well-organised table of Fast Day envelopes
  • I never make the talk overly long – getting the message across in the shortest amount of time maximises its impact and makes sure the congregation doesn’t switch off (that was a tip from a parish priest in one of my early talks!)
  • I get to the church a little early and arrange the leaflets and posters so the maximum number of people get a chance to see the appeal
  • I always stand at the back at the end of each Mass until the last person has left – to accept any donations, hand out envelopes, answer questions or even recruit new volunteers

Download Fast Day resources to use with your parish community.

I believe that the Fast Day appeals are so very important. In our busy lives it’s easy to forget the poverty & hardship that affects so many people around the world.   But as a speaker at Mass we can tell the real stories of real people whose lives CAFOD is transforming.  And these powerful stories encourage others to get involved: from a donation in the collection basket, to making a regular donation, an offer of help or simply a prayer.

Find out more how you can volunteer with CAFOD.

5 thoughts on “Speaking at Mass: telling real stories of real people”

  1. Reblogged this on CAFOD Salford Blog and commented:
    Each Fast Day, hundreds of CAFOD volunteers arrange to speak at masses about how CAFOD is making a difference overseas. In this blog piece one of those volunteers, Ged, shares his experiences of being a CAFOD Speaker at Mass.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *