CAFOD staff’s tips for how to lobby your MP

Ffion Dean is the CAFOD Web Editor. Speak Up for the Love Of will be her first lobby and the first time she’s met her local MP.

Ffion with bunting
Ffion getting ready for the lobby with her bunting.

Climate change is an issue which really concerns me. It’s going to cause problems for lots of things I care about from spring flowers to people overseas living in harsh climates. I signed up to meet my MP at the climate change event on 17 June as soon as I heard about it. Using the form on the CAFOD website I also emailed my MP to make sure he would be there.

Last week he emailed back to say he’d be available to meet me. And then I got scared.

I’ve never met him before and I don’t know what his views are on climate change. What if he’s a climate change denier and we argue all afternoon? What if he asks me difficult questions? What if he’s not very nice to me?

Badger my MP
Susy is going to keep contacting her MP until she gets a response

Fortunately I received the Climate Coalition briefing guide today with tips on what to say to my MP and I also work in a building with lots of experienced campaigners. Here is some of their advice.

Try and get your MP to come

Use the form on the CAFOD website to tell your MP you’d like to meet them at Speak Up for the Love Of. If you don’t hear back try another way of getting in touch – phone their office or tweet them. Continue reading “CAFOD staff’s tips for how to lobby your MP”

Oscar Romero lives on in the people of El Salvador

Denise is Diocesan Manager in Brentwood. She visited El Salvador in 2004 for the 15th Anniversary of the Martyrs of El Salvador. To mark the beatification of Blessed Oscar Romero, she tells us how his legacy lives on in the people of El Salvador.

Denise from Brentwood
Denise, Diocesan Manager in Brentwood, visited El Salvador and was witnessed how Romero’s legacy lives on

When I first knew I would be visiting El Salvador I read a few books about the country – most recalling the conflict and the work of Romero and the Jesuit priests. I felt I was concentrating on the past and not finding out about the country now. It soon became clear that the conflict and Romero is still so entwined in daily life, that you couldn’t split the past from the present or the future.

Download prayers to celebrate the life of Blessed Oscar Romero

This is an excerpt from my diary, reflecting on a visit to where Romero was assassinated, the chapel of The Hospital of the Divine Providence

“We are welcomed into the small museum housed in the rooms Romero used when staying at the hospital. Shown around by a sister who had ministered to Romero after he was shot, it is sobering to meet people who so nearly lost their lives but for fate and to be part of history. Continue reading “Oscar Romero lives on in the people of El Salvador”

Oscar Romero: An inspiration who spoke out for the poor

Tony Sheen, Regional Manager for CAFOD, visited El Salvador on a Romero Trust Pilgrimage. Here he shares why Archbishop Oscar Romero inspires him every day.

I am delighted that the Church has beatified Oscar Romero. He is an inspirational Christian Martyr of my life time and an authentic voice of our Church having a real concern for the poor.

He was a true witness to Jesus’s teaching for us to speak out for justice in the beatitudes, when he said in Matthew 5:6. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…and when people speak all types of criticisms of you on my account”

Download prayers to celebrate the beatification of Blessed Oscar Romero

Romero spoke out about the injustices and killings in El Salvador during his time as Archbishop from 1977 to 1980. In doing so, Romero systematic undermined the rich and powerful and faced death threats to stop him speaking out.

Continue reading “Oscar Romero: An inspiration who spoke out for the poor”

Oscar Romero: “Aspire not to have more but to be more”

Matthew Sanderson works for CAFOD and is the Executive Assistant to the Director. In 2013 he visited Romero’s tomb in El Salvador. He will commence teacher training (history for secondary school children) in the autumn.

Matthew Sanderson on a recent trip visiting CAFOD projects in El Salvador
Matthew on a recent visit to El Salvador

I love history. Learning about people and events in the past fascinates me – What happened? Why does it happen? What can I learn from the past for my own life?

It doesn’t matter if the moment happened years or centuries ago. It’s fascinating how key figures from the past lived in cultures and experienced life in settings that I could not imagine; and yet they resonate so much with me.

This was definitely the case when I first learnt about Oscar Romero as a teenager. He may have died a decade before I was born in a country thousands of miles way but his story challenges me then and today.

Find prayers to celebrate the beatification of Blessed Oscar Romero

Romero’s Daily Reminder to Me

When I visited El Salvador in November 2013 I paid my respects at Romero’s tomb. Here I remembered the quote that I pass every day at the entrance to CAFOD: “Aspire not to have more but to be more”.

Continue reading “Oscar Romero: “Aspire not to have more but to be more””

Art and soul of Romero

Hugh Gibbons is a CAFOD volunteer from Bracknell in the Portsmouth diocese who has led several community art projects to spread the word about Blessed Oscar Romero’s life and legacy.

Hugh Gibbon in Bracknell
Hugh with one of his pieces of art in Bracknell

I think he’d smile. Art with its sleeves rolled up is how I like to think of my offbeat contribution to the tributes for Romero in an unplanned series of good-natured portraits seen by thousands of people – indoors and out. And there’s been a flow of good stories for the local press and beyond.

The starting point was a visit to Stonyhurst College in Lancashire four years ago. The Librarian Jan Graffius is also the conservator of Romero’s relics in the little museum in the Divina Providencia Hospital in San Salvador. Not bones, but telling items such as three pairs of socks, a manual typewriter, spare spectacles – and blood-stained vestments.

On Jan’s I spotted a small triptych of Romero’s life by an up-country artist. Something clicked. I’m not an artist. But painting on wood in blocks of bright Salvadoran colours seemed something I could have a go at – and many school and parish for that matter.

So I scaled up the familiar little CAFOD Memorial Cross as Romero 1.0 in our porch, to welcome all visitors.

Buy your own Romero cross

A cross for all weathers

Romero 2.0 quickly followed – but 2 metres high!  ‘Big Oscar’ was a present for St Francis of Assisi parish in South Ascot as a thank you for 50 years of CAFOD support. The cross was ‘ruggedized’ to withstand the weather in its setting on the outside of the church, so that all the passing public could enjoy and gain something from it. And there was room for Romero with trademark eyebrows and glasses.   Continue reading “Art and soul of Romero”

Oscar Romero: Clare Dixon’s reflections on his beatification

Brothers, you are killing your fellow countrymen. No soldier has to obey an order to kill. In the name of God and in the name of the suffering people I implore you, I beg you, I order you, stop the repression!”

Clare and Ben at the tomb
Clare and Ben from CAFOD at Oscar Romero’s tomb

On 23 March 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero called on the army in El Salvador to disobey their government and lay down their weapons. He must have suspected that by doing so he was signing his own death warrant.

About the author: Clare Dixon is Head of CAFOD’s Latin America Department and a trustee of the Romero Trust. She reflects on Archbishop Oscar Romero’s beatification today.

The next evening, Romero was celebrating a memorial Mass in San Salvador. The church doors were open and he probably noticed the car drawing up outside. An armed man climbed out, took aim and fired directly at his heart. Romero died instantly, becoming the third bishop in history to be killed in his Church, after Stanislaus of Poland and Thomas Becket.

Today’s ceremony for Romero’s beatification – declaring him “Blessed” in the eyes of the Catholic Church – will see crowds of up to half a million people gather in San Salvador, alongside at least nine Presidents and Church leaders from around the world. This recognition of Romero as a towering figure in Latin America, martyred “in odium fidei” – out of hatred for the faith – is a clear vindication of one of the great figures of the 20th Century, the moral equivalent of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi.

Read our answers to your questions about Oscar Romero

Voice of the voiceless

In his three years at the head of the Church in El Salvador, where the military-dominated regime was propped up by the United States to combat a supposed communist threat, Archbishop Romero became the voice of the voiceless. He defended the poorer sectors of society against the violence of paramilitary death squads. His human rights office made daily rounds of the rubbish dumps in San Salvador searching for the bodies of people who’d been murdered, and they kept detailed records of the massacres carried out all around the country Continue reading “Oscar Romero: Clare Dixon’s reflections on his beatification”

Lent 2015: half way reflections on our Lent challenges

Ffion baking
Ffion starting her Lent baking challenge

Having passed the half way point in Lent 2015 earlier this week, our Web Editor Ffion Dean updates us on how she and other CAFOD staff are coping with their Lent challenges.

When I realised we were only half way through Lent my heart sank a little. It feels like ages since the beginning of Lent. Does that mean it will feel like a long time until Easter for me and my colleagues who have taken on Lent challenges? I’ve heard office rumours of a few Lent set-backs but everyone is putting a lot of time, thought and effort into their challenges.

Watch our first Lenten journey video to find out what some CAFOD staff have been cutting out and doubling up this Lent:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4yBjrQCjxs&w=560&h=315]

Burned cakes and new inventions

I’ve been doubling my baking to raise money for the CAFOD Lent Appeal. I was a bit nervous and pressed for time in my first week so I made something simple – a Lemon Drizzle Cake. It came out well and all twelve slices were sold for a pound each by mid-afternoon the following day. Continue reading “Lent 2015: half way reflections on our Lent challenges”

My life in Aleppo – A mother’s story

Mariana works for a CAFOD partner in Syria, providing life-saving food and emergency supplies to people who continue to be torn apart by the four year conflict. Read her story.

Fear and worry are my constant companions, never leaving my side when I’m at home or when I go to work. This is because of the continuous deadly shelling. You never get use to that sound, its power and then the haunting silence afterwards, followed by the cries of the injured.

CAFOD Syrian mother
Mariana

About the author: Mariana works for a CAFOD partner in Syria, providing life-saving food and emergency supplies to people who continue to be torn apart by the four year conflict.

Two years ago I was sitting on our balcony with my daughter, singing many songs, when suddenly we were rocked by a powerful explosion. We froze. I watched my daughter’s face grow paler and paler, and then we heard the screams of a woman. The shell had landed on the pushchair of her two-year-old daughter, and her husband’s leg had been blown off.

So when I go to work, I ask myself, “Will I reach my job safely today?”

I’m 37 years old. I married in 2010 in Aleppo, and have three children, two daughters and a baby son. In 2012 my husband lost his job – the factory where he was working was destroyed in the fighting. So now I am the breadwinner for my family, employed as an aid worker, with one of CAFOD’s partners in Syria.

Please keep supporting CAFOD’s long-term work and sign up to our direct debit for our Lent appeal. Your first three months will be matched by the UK government.
Continue reading “My life in Aleppo – A mother’s story”

Syrian crisis fourth anniversary: meet two families who fled to Lebanon

15 March sees the Syria crisis enter its fourth year. As the crisis continues to deepen, and the human suffering is greater than ever before, we would like to introduce you to two families who have been affected by the conflict in Syria. With money raised by CAFOD supporters across England and Wales our partner, Caritas Lebanon, is able to support Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict to Lebanon, with vital food, health and education services. 

As part of the #WithSyria campaign CAFOD is calling for world leaders to find a political agreement to end the conflict.

Sign the #WithSyria petition today

Abir and Tony

Abir, Tony and their triplets
Abir, Tony and their triplets

Abir and Tony are Syrian refugees who  fled to Lebanon in 2011, when the conflict intensified in their country.  Thirteen months ago they had they had triplets that were born ten weeks premature. With support from CAFOD partner Caritas Lebanon and from the UN Refugee Agency – UNHCR the babies received the vital hospital care they needed, and today all three children are healthy.  Continue reading “Syrian crisis fourth anniversary: meet two families who fled to Lebanon”

CAFOD and Mike Wooldridge OBE inspire young journalists at Leeds Trinity University Journalism Week

Luke with Mike Wooldridge
St Mary’s Menston sixth former Luke meets BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mike Wooldridge OBE

BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mike Wooldridge OBE joined CAFOD on the podium at Leeds Trinity University this month to mark the university’s annual Journalism week. St Mary’s Menston sixth form student Luke attended the talk and reports his findings below.

It was an afternoon of absorbing tales from the world of journalism, as BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mike Wooldridge OBE teamed up with CAFOD to inspire the journalists of the future.

The galvanizing event was just one of a variety of guest speakers and workshops as part of Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism Week.

Get involved with CAFOD

After an introduction from the CAFOD team based in Leeds, Mr Wooldridge wasted no time in immersing the audience in his stories from a career any journalist would dream of. From the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990, to the Haitian earthquake in 2010, the audience was captivated by anecdotes from a working life which Mr Wooldridge describe as “like having a ringside seat at history in the making.”

If any budding journalists present were having second thoughts about their degree, just one hour in this lecture theatre would be enough to set their ship back on course. It made for powerful listening. Continue reading “CAFOD and Mike Wooldridge OBE inspire young journalists at Leeds Trinity University Journalism Week”