Why I volunteer: “…the best decision you will ever make!”

This Lent, Joe Andrew celebrated 20 years of volunteering with CAFOD.  Here, he writes about the journey on which volunteering has taken him:

My involvement with the Catholic Church and with groups like CAFOD has gone in waves or cycles all my life. As a teenager I was an altar boy, went to Mass several times a week, and did house-to-house collections, sponsored events, all that kind of thing.

Volunteer Joe Andrew accepts a cheque from pupils at English Martyrs school in the Birmingham Diocese
Volunteer Joe Andrew accepts a cheque from pupils at English Martyrs school in the Birmingham Diocese

In my 40s I returned to my youthful faith and enthusiasms, and with it a renewed sense that ‘faith without deeds is dead’.  With a few like-minded people in the parish I helped set up a local CAFOD group. We did lots of different stuff: raised money by auctions, coffee mornings, raffles and all the things that Catholics are so good at. Within a few years, I felt the need to go further, and applied successfully to become what was then known as a Covenant Volunteer for Birmingham Archdiocesan CAFOD. (‘Covenant’ meant that you ‘covenanted’, that is, committed to spend x hours a year on work for CAFOD).

Now the arrangements are more informal and you do what you can. For me my main role is as a Media Volunteer, and I also speak at Mass around the two Fast Days, visit a few local schools at those times, and also help out with fixing up speakers at Mass for the two Fast Days.

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Continue reading “Why I volunteer: “…the best decision you will ever make!””

Volunteering: my journey to Parliament

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGT-RM8k8R8]

Molly McCaffrey recently spoke at a CAFOD reception at Parliament 

When CAFOD invited me to speak at their parliamentary reception, I panicked. I’m a

UK - Parliament - Molly McCaffrey
Volunteer Molly McCaffrey in Parliament

student at Durham University, in the midst of end-of-term essay-writing. How was I going to plan a speech that was worth listening to, in between revising?

I decided to use my speech to reflect on the journey and experiences that CAFOD have facilitated for me; the people who have inspired me; and the conversations that have taught me to think and question.

See how you can start your volunteering journey

Continue reading “Volunteering: my journey to Parliament”

Stepping into the gap between volunteers and volunteers

Susan works in our education team. She recently visited Zimbabwe with young Step into the Gap volunteers from England and Wales. They met members of staff from Mavambo, one of CAFOD’s partners in Zimbabwe, who work extensively with local volunteers.

Martin, one of the Shemware Dzedu, who led us in singing
Martin, one of the Shemware Dzedu, who led us in singing

The singing reverberated through the hall, starting quietly, only one man, but swelling as the sixty or so people in the hall joined in. As I picked up the words, my voice joined too: “Here I am, I’m missing my partner. Here we are, your best friends! Here we are, here we are, here we are, your best friends. Here we are, here we are, here we are, face to face!”

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Continue reading “Stepping into the gap between volunteers and volunteers”

Why I volunteer: running in memory of my dad

Ben McMullen is the Deputy Head of All Hallows Catholic High School in Preston. In April he ran the 2016 Virgin London Marathon for CAFOD in memory of his father, Vin McMullen. Just before the marathon, he spoke to Jade Till of CAFOD’s media team, about the inspiration from his father and the course that CAFOD continues to run through his life.

Ben McMullen, CAFOD volunteer and deputy head of All Hallows Catholic High School, Preston
Ben McMullen, deputy head of All Hallows Catholic High School, Preston

CAFOD’s been a part of my life since I was 10 years old. My dad, Vin McMullen, worked for CAFOD for 16 years, from 1981 – 1997.  He was the very first regional organiser outside of London.  His area was originally the north of England, and then eventually covered Salford, Shrewsbury, Liverpool, and Lancaster dioceses.

A gift to CAFOD in memory of a loved one could change someone’s life forever

Vin McMullen (centre) with Julian Filochowski (left) and others at the first Liverpool Fun Run in 1984
Vin McMullen (centre) with Julian Filochowski (left) and others at the first Liverpool Fun Run in 1984

Eventually every diocese had a regional organiser so he covered Liverpool.  All through my teenage years I volunteered.  My dad was the one who set up the Christmas Fun Run in Liverpool in 1984, which still goes on.

My dad was away a lot, and when he came back, all of the photographs and video clips really raised my awareness of how other people have to live.  He was particularly involved with the Philippines.  He wrote a book which the geography department at my school still uses.

CAFOD’s changed a lot from those days and it’s grown enormously now. Continue reading “Why I volunteer: running in memory of my dad”

Walsingham pilgrims pray for refugees with CAFOD’s Lampedusa cross

CAFOD volunteer Kris Pears from Coventry went on a pilgrimage to Walsingham and spoke to fellow pilgrims about the Lampedusa cross

Kris Pears took the Lampedusa cross on a pilgrimage to Walsingham
Kris Pears took the Lampedusa cross on a pilgrimage to Walsingham

“Hello my name is Kris and I am a CAFOD volunteer”, an opening line that I have used many times in the past, but this time it was very different.

Pentecost Sunday 2016 was the third and final day of the weekend pilgrimage to Walsingham by my parish, St Thomas More’s. The day before I had been privileged to serve Mass for Bishop Robert Byrne at the climax of the Archdiocese of Birmingham’s Diocesan day pilgrimage to the shrine. This morning the crowds had gone and as we left Elmham house to walk the pilgrims’ mile down to the shrine.

A few minutes before the group of 50 of us set out I had briefly explained to the Coventry group and our fellow pilgrims from Liverpool about the Lampedusa cross. Now I carried it at the font of our group as we walked the path between the fields from the village. Continue reading “Walsingham pilgrims pray for refugees with CAFOD’s Lampedusa cross”

Rediscovering Mercy: an invitation to connect faith and mercy

Catherine Gorman works in CAFOD’s Theology Programme. On Divine Mercy Sunday she reflects on how we can “be merciful as our Father is merciful”.

CAFOD Syrian refugee father and child
A father warms his child after arriving on the beach in Greece.

Throughout this Year of Mercy, but perhaps particularly today on Divine Mercy Sunday, we are called to “be merciful as our Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). For Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, this call “serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of the Father who asks us not to judge or condemn, but to forgive and to give love and forgiveness without measure.”

This is a real challenge. Personally, I find that it is so much easier to hold a grudge, to judge others, to close myself off, rather than to open myself up, to let go and forgive. How can I possibly try to emulate the mercy of God in my interactions with others?

Download our Rediscovering Mercy resource>>

Continue reading “Rediscovering Mercy: an invitation to connect faith and mercy”

CAFOD Lent challenges: What we learned and what we’ll remember

Mariacristina Lubrano from our digital team tells us about her colleagues who have taken up some really exciting challenges this Lent.

CAFOD staff ready for Lent challenges
CAFOD staff at the beginning of our challenges

Back in February, right at the beginning of Lent, I shared my excitement about the number of extraordinary challenges that some of my colleagues had set themselves.

Some decided to fundraise for the CAFOD Lent appeal, seizing the amazing opportunity to double their impact with match funding.

Others chose to reflect personally and raise awareness in solidarity with people who struggle to get clean water. As I heard each idea, I was touched by their commitment and willingness to push themselves.

Continue reading “CAFOD Lent challenges: What we learned and what we’ll remember”

Elly’s Lent challenge: Swimming the length of the English channel!

CAFOD’s Eleanor Heans-Glogowska set herself the challenge of swimming the length of the English Channel over the course of the 40 days of Lent.

CAFOD Lent Elly swimming the length of the English channel
Elly is swimming the length of the English channel this Lent!

This Lent I set myself the challenge of swimming 22 miles – the length of the English Channel.

Good Friday is approaching and I can almost see the French coast appearing on the horizon! I’ve now got just 300 lengths left of my Lent Channel Challenge.

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I decided to attempt a Channel swim (although admittedly it was in my local swimming pool rather than the cold waters of the Channel) in solidarity with girls like Proscovia, who have to walk two to four hours just to get the water they need.

Continue reading “Elly’s Lent challenge: Swimming the length of the English channel!”

Lent 2016: 7 ways to survive a 10 litre water challenge

Ffion works in our digital team. This Lent she’s challenging herself to live on just 10 litres of water a day for a week to raise awareness of the CAFOD Lent Appeal.

Ffion and others
Ffion (right) with CAFOD colleagues who are all taking on water challenges during Lent 2016

When I first heard that people like Proscovia, a young girl from rural Uganda, sometimes live on 10 litres of water a day I thought, “that’s not too bad”. I’ve heard we humans are supposed to drink about two litres of liquid a day to stay healthy, so that’s a whole eight litres to clean your teeth and wash yourself. And wash your dishes and do your laundry. Oh, and then there’s flushing the toilet as well which, I’ve since discovered, uses at least four litres of water!

Far from thinking that 10 litres of water is sufficient, I’m now quite worried about my Lent challenge. I’ve done some research, which taught me that 10 litres is less than 10% of what we normally use per person per day in the UK. Washing things – yourself, clothes and laundry – seems to be where we use (or waste) the most amount of water so that’s what I think will be most difficult.

Please donate to our Lent Appeal

Ground rules

I’m starting my challenge tomorrow (4 March) so I’ve set myself some ground rules and have been thinking about little ‘tricks’ I can use to stop myself from using water when I don’t need to. Continue reading “Lent 2016: 7 ways to survive a 10 litre water challenge”