Harvest Fast Day: Prayers for a brighter future

Catherine Gorman works in CAFOD’s Theology Programme. She reflects on a request from Vladimir in Bolivia that we pray for him and his family this Harvest.

Vladimir on his land in the Altiplano
Vladimir on his land in the Altiplano

“If people in England and Wales were able to pray for us, we’d like them to pray for our dreams to come true and that our work isn’t in vain, but that what we wish for our land will come true.” Vladimir, 25, Bolivia

Pray for Vladimir and his family this Harvest

This simple request for prayers reminds me of how universal the Church is. It makes me aware of our similarities, despite the differences in our lives and circumstances. Continue reading “Harvest Fast Day: Prayers for a brighter future”

Canonisation of Mother Teresa

On the day of the canonisation of Blessed Mother Teresa, Daniel Hale, from our campaigns team, reflects on her lifetime of charitable work.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Photo credit: Manfredo Ferrari
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Photo credit: Manfredo Ferrari

Mother Teresa, one of the most globally iconic people in the Catholic Church in the 20th century, is being declared a saint this weekend in Rome. For many, this is the high point of the Pope’s Year of Mercy. Pope Francis holds Teresa up as the embodiment of Jesus’ words, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Download our prayer vigil on care for creation

Leaving the relative comfort of her teaching order, Teresa began a ministry to those living on the streets of India. She showed the touch of God’s mercy to the ‘untouchables’ of society. To those who didn’t know more, her reputation was one of absolute charity – feeding the hungry and comforting the dying. When I grew up, Mother Teresa was its personification.

Continue reading “Canonisation of Mother Teresa”

How people in Zimbabwe are fighting back against climate change with renewable energy

Takura Gwatinyanya works for CAFOD partner Caritas Harare in Zimbabwe. He recently met CAFOD supporters in England and Wales to talk about how Caritas Harare is using renewable energy to help to tackle the effects of climate change in the southern African country.

Takura and Caritas Harare are helping people in Zimbabwe face the challenge of climate change
Takura and Caritas Harare are helping people in Zimbabwe face the challenge of climate change

Pope Francis warns in Laudato Si’ that our interference with nature is particularly affecting areas in which the poorest people live.

This is all too evident for the communities that Takura and Caritas Harare serve in Zimbabwe. As we have caused the climate to warm, drought has dried up people’s water supplies, destroyed their crops and livelihoods, and increased the spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and diarrhoea.

Speak up to your MP for action on climate change

Takura recently visited parishes around England and Wales to talk about how the support of Catholics in this country is enabling people in Zimbabwe to overcome the challenges thrown at them by our exploitation of nature.

Continue reading “How people in Zimbabwe are fighting back against climate change with renewable energy”

Ethiopia appeal: Betam amasayganalo Ethiopia!

Today more than 10 million women, men and children in Ethiopia are struggling with severe hunger caused by drought. With CAFOD working to respond, Jade Till, from our news team, describes her experience of the country’s rich culture and natural beauty.

CAFOD Children in Ethiopia play by the side of a river
“Ethiopia is where life happens”

Ethiopia is where life happens. Recently, Ethiopia has been in the news due to a widespread drought. What’s rarely told is the wondrous beauty of Ethiopia. It’s a dynamic country, rich in culture and history, I’m fortunate enough to have experienced it.

Donate to CAFOD’s Ethiopia Food Crisis Appeal

Coffee!

Probably what Ethiopia is most well-known for is coffee. Anyone who’s met me for longer than five minutes knows I’m a coffee drinker. Ethiopia is why I love, and drink, so much coffee.

I remember experiencing my first traditional coffee ceremony. No matter where I was in Ethiopia or if I was in the city or a rural village, the coffee was always served in a traditional style. Grass (even in areas where I hadn’t seen grass for days) is laid out around the coffee area. The woman making the coffee always wore a traditional, flowing, white gown. The coffee beans would be; washed, roasted, crushed, mixed into hot water, and then placed in a traditional coffee pot. The coffee would be shared and you would always drink seven cups of coffee during the coffee ceremony! Ethiopian coffee is extremely strong; it’s also extremely delicious.

Meet the tiny breakfast grain helping to save lives

Continue reading “Ethiopia appeal: Betam amasayganalo Ethiopia!”

The impact of Laudato Si’ one year on

It’s one year Laudato Si’ was published. Pope Francis used this ‘letter to the world’ to call for action on issues such as climate change and for us to rethink our ideas of progress. Liam Finn, CAFOD‘s UK News Officer, looks at the impact of the encyclical:

CAFOD supporters at a study day focused on Laudato Si'
CAFOD supporters at a study day focused on Laudato Si’

“I wish to address every person living on this planet.”

So declared Pope Francis at the start of his landmark encyclical, Laudato Si’ – On Care for Our Common Home, a year ago. The Holy Father called for a “bold cultural revolution”, imploring us to transform ourselves because the human and environmental costs of our current way of life – particularly for the world’s poorest people – are too high. He spoke of the need for measures to tackle climate change and pollution, for greater awareness and appreciation of nature and the planet, and for us to value everyone in all places and at all stages of life.

Act on Laudato Si’ and help people access renewable energy

Laudato Si’ is extraordinary. For a start, it’s the first encyclical focused on the need to care for Creation. It is, as MPs said in Parliament, a “most beautiful document” which is “astonishing and exceptionally rich”. Even so, its greatest power is the way it acts as a mirror to the world with brutal reflections, whether saying that the earth “is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth”, or talking about “the disposable of society” – a description so steeped in satire that it reads more like it’s from the pen of a punk lyricist than a pontiff.

But this encyclical is also extraordinary because of the reaction it generated both before and after its publication. Continue reading “The impact of Laudato Si’ one year on”

“A marathon like no other” for CAFOD

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGdqgUYOGE4?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Justin Rowntree owns the highly acclaimed Silversmith’s Restaurant in Sheffield.  On 5 June he ran the Ugandan Marathon in memory of his late mum, Sarojini, his grandmother, Angelina, and to support CAFOD.  He set himself the challenge of raising £4,000 to cover the cost of building a borehole in the Gulu region of Uganda.  He spoke to CAFOD’s Katherine Binns about the race:

CAFOD Volunteer Justin Rowntree during the Ugandan Marathon
Justin Rowntree during the Ugandan Marathon

The week before the marathon was truly life changing. Meeting people in the remotest of villages rebuilding their lives after 20 years of war, [and seeing] their dignity, determination and relentless strength to improve their lives is something we in the west can learn so much from.

See the impact your efforts during Lent have made

I saw how wells already implemented by CAFOD changed the fortune and lives of whole communities. No six hour trips for water by the children meant school could be attended, hygiene and health improved tenfold, and crops had a chance to survive drought.

As one village leader said to me “building a well is giving life, as here water is life”

Continue reading ““A marathon like no other” for CAFOD”

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.

See how you can volunteer with us

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!”

Sign up to our webinar to hear more about our Gappers’ visits to Zimbabwe and Peru

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”