Great Generation: Speaking at mass

Antonia is a young leader from Sheffield. Here she shares her experience of volunteering with CAFOD, and speaking out for fairness and equality.

‘I really felt as though my talk had reached people. Not only had it raised awareness, it had also raised money and educated people so that they can also speak out for justice and equality.’ – Antonia

Antonia (right) speaking at mass for CAFOD

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a passion for helping others. I was always the first one to put money in the charity box or to purchase a wristband and badge at a fundraising stall. My mother has always taught me to be a generous person, and she says that sometimes it’s the smallest actions that can create the biggest impact.

In May I visited my local church in the hope that my small gestures may indeed amount to something much bigger.

Once I had learnt about CAFOD’s World Gifts range and enlightened others through assemblies at school, I felt the urge to spread the message to a wider community. I was amazed at how CAFOD could change so many people’s lives in this way and knew that it was my duty to pass this idea on to others. My initial instinct was to contact my childhood parish and try to organise a five minute slot where I could introduced CAFOD’s work on a deeper level and perhaps encourage others to get involved. Naturally, they had already heard about CAFOD and were more than happy for me to come in and speak to their congregation: I was delighted!

Use our Harvest short talk to speak at mass this Harvest Fast Day

Antonia and her fellow young leaders in Hallam
Antonia (front row, far right) with her fellow young leaders in Hallam

When I arrived, I was introduced and welcomed by a lady named Sioned, who then handed the spotlight over to me. I must admit, I was slightly nervous at first. This was my first time working for CAFOD outside of school – not to mention without the rest of my CAFOD group!

Nevertheless, I began to discuss how I became involved with CAFOD’s Youth Leadership programme and talked about my journey with CAFOD over the past year. I explained that not only had the programme strengthened my passion for helping other people, but also solidified my faith and made me feel a great sense of belonging. It had shown me my calling from God and highlighted that this was my vocation: I was made to help others.

Check out our Faith in Action volunteering resources

Five minutes soon turned into ten, then 15, then 20. Everybody was so intrigued by the programme and after the service, I had a number of people come up to me and ask me various questions – all of which I was more than happy to answer.

The following week, I returned to my church to join in with the weekly Sunday service and opened the doors to find a number of CAFOD posters in the corridor. The CAFOD collection box I had left the previous week was completely full and one individual had even left me a card to congratulate me on the work that I was doing! I was utterly overwhelmed with happiness! I really felt as though my talk had reached people. Not only had it raised awareness, it had also raised money and educated people so that they can also speak out for justice and equality.

Organise a Brighten Up fundraiser in your school this Harvest

I cannot begin to express my gratitude to the congregation for the support they have shown towards CAFOD. After seeing their response, I am hoping to organise more visits to other churches, parishes and even schools. I am now fully prepared to speak out for fairness and I am ready to teach people about global communities, development issues and the build towards a better future for all.

Take the lead this Harvest. Why not speak to your local parish about speaking about Harvest Fast Day, or organise a Harvest fundraiser? Find tips and tools for your Harvest event.

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