CAFOD stands for the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development. We are an international development charity and the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. We stand beside people living in poverty – whatever their religion or culture. Through local church partners, we help people directly in their own communities, and campaign for global justice, so that everyone can reach their full potential. How to get involved with CAFOD None of our work is possible without you. Whether you donate, campaign, download prayers or volunteer we are grateful for your support.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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 volunteer Kris Pears from Coventry went on a pilgrimage to Walsingham and spoke to fellow pilgrims about the Lampedusa cross
“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.
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”.
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?
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.
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.
From water challenges to community lunches, there are a plethora of ways to help make a difference for CAFOD during Lent. It is not every day, though, that someone decides to jump out of a plane. Here, we meet one volunteer who is planning on going the extra 15,000 feet for CAFOD.
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.
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.