Roisin Beirne, CAFOD’s Candlelight Fund Officer, talks about the inspirational families who honour a loved one through CAFOD’s work.
For me, this year has been eventful and full of meaning, as I began my new role in April, looking after our Candlelight Funds. I support those who have lost a loved one and are looking for a way to pay tribute to them through CAFOD’s work. I have been completely overwhelmed by the compassion and generosity shown by those who remember their loved ones in this way. They have welcomed me with a level of warmth that I never imagined would be a part of my job.
CAFOD legacy officer Hannah Caldwell shares the inspiring story of Lisl Steiner, who fled the Nazis, became a teacher and continues to change children’s lives by the gift she left to CAFOD in her will.
There are so many inspirational people at the heart of CAFOD’s work, each with their own story. I’m lucky that in my job every now and then I get to hear a little more of some of these stories.
One that I often think of is that of Lisl Steiner, who supported CAFOD for many years and remembered us with a gift in her will.
Lisl was born into a Jewish family in Vienna, 1923. At 15, as the world was on the brink of war and Jews were suffering cruelty and persecution at the hands of the Nazi regime, she made a lonely journey to England.
The legacy of Oscar Romero, former Archbishop of San Salvador who was assassinated in 1980, continues to inspire people around the world. CAFOD chair, Bishop John Arnold, has written about how Romero has inspired him, and how a gift in a will can enable us all to leave our own legacy of hope.
I decided some years ago to leave a gift to CAFOD in my will. As someone who has long appreciated CAFOD’s work and is very aware of our Christian duty to stand in solidarity with people who are poor, I felt it was the right thing to do.
On my trip to El Salvador with CAFOD last year, I met many people deeply moved by the life of Blessed Oscar Romero and his determination to speak out against injustice. When visiting the radio station at the Jesuit university in San Salvador, I was reminded that nearly 40 years ago, CAFOD funded Romero’s own radio station after it was blown up by the military.
Hannah Caldwell is CAFOD’s legacy officer and speaks with supporters who are thinking of including a gift to CAFOD in their will. She reflects on how Pope Francis encourages us to care for future generations.
When Pope Francis released his encyclical Laudato Si’, On Care for our Common Home, lots of people at CAFOD were excited. The Pope’s discussion of issues that deeply effect the communities we work with – climate change, human rights, housing, clean water, a fair share of resources – were being put on the centre stage in this document that was addressed not only to the faithful but to the whole world.
But I have to admit, whilst I knew it was important to CAFOD’s work with partners and communities, I wasn’t sure it was relevant to my role as CAFOD’s legacy officer. I was pleased for my colleagues and, as a Catholic, I was interested in what the Pope had to say and how it might encourage me to make changes in my own life, but I didn’t assume there’d be a connection with my work.
Susanna Webb, CAFOD Candlelight Funds Officer, talks about some of the special families who remember a loved one with a Candlelight Fund
I’ve worked in CAFOD’s Legacy and Remembrance giving team for nearly 8 years and without a doubt the real privilege is hearing from so many families who are creating hope amidst their grief.
Candlelight Funds are a way of paying tribute to someone special while also raising money for men, women and children living in poverty around the world. Over the course of the last 10 years, more than 600 people and families have decided to remember their loved one with gifts to CAFOD’s work.
Here you can read about how some of those families have paid tribute to their loved ones while also building a brighter future for our brothers and sisters around the world.
Hannah Caldwell, CAFOD’s legacy officer, explains what she loves about legacies.
People are sometimes surprised to hear that I love my job. “Gifts in wills…?” they ask cautiously, “isn’t that kind of…depressing?” My answer is an assured “No!”
Because it’s quite the opposite. Gifts in wills, also known as legacies, are about life, not death, and it’s really special to be part of a supporter’s journey to decide to leave a gift to CAFOD in this way.
One of my favourite passages of scripture is from the Book of Jeremiah, ‘”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”’
A legacy is a gift of hope, a gift pledged today to promise to bring about a better future for others.
It’s easy to be cynical about the way the world is, or resign ourselves to the feeling that things can’t change. But a legacy flies in the face of this defeatism! It says things can change; that the world can be a better place. And through their gift we can help bring about that change for many years to come. A legacy is part of building a brighter future for our children and grandchildren.
As CAFOD gets ready for its tenth year of November memorial Masses, director Chris Bain reflects on the month of remembrance.
November is a very special time of year. And it’s not just the fireworks that make it special. For the Church and her faithful, it is a time especially set aside to remember and pray for all those who have died.
For many people, this might seem strange. In today’s busy society there aren’t many opportunities for us to take the time and space to remember those who are no longer with us. We’re constantly on the go and feel we need to be in control. And, because we’re frightened by what might happen if our emotions get the better of us, we are often uncomfortable with the idea of death and grief.
Of course, for those of us who have lost someone special, they are always with us and we think of them often, but it can be hard to find a way to express our feelings or share the experience with others without making people anxious.
But that’s why this month of remembrance should be recognised more widely. Having a space in the Church calendar where we’re encouraged to celebrate our loved ones reminds us that it is good and right to do so; to remember and give thanks for the people who’ve influenced us, and pray for all those who have died. It might sound sombre, and indeed it can be an emotional time, but ultimately the Church is giving us a message of hope. Hope and encouragement that love and life are stronger than death. Continue reading “Remembering CAFOD supporters this November”
This November CAFOD’s legacy information officer, Heather, will be leaving CAFOD after 26 years. Here Heather reflects on some of the milestones and changes she’s witnessed during that time.
26 years is a long time to spend in one place but, as I approach my retirement, I feel fortunate to have worked for an organisation that makes a difference.
The seeds of my interest in overseas development were sown by the teachers, priests and relatives who encouraged me to care about people in poverty.
Readers of my generation will remember the images of starving children in Biafra during the Nigerian civil war (1967-70). As a teenager I didn’t understand the complex and dangerous circumstances in which agencies like CAFOD were working on the ground; but I knew I wanted to help.
Years later, the call to action for my daughter’s generation was Michael Buerk’s report of the 1984 Ethiopia famine. Sr Colette, a remarkable nun who was running a feeding programme for malnourished children, told our parish how important the support she received from CAFOD was.
In 1989 I joined CAFOD as parish promotion secretary; supporting the Friday self-denial groups, volunteers, regional organisers and parishes. There were around 50 staff in our Brixton office then and we’d just opened our first international office in Albania.
CAFOD supporter John van den Bosch visited our projects in Nicaragua to see how gifts in wills, like the one left by his mother, are having a huge impact.
My mother, Marjorie, was a dedicated CAFOD supporter. When she died, I wasn’t surprised to learn that, as well as providing for her friends and family, she’d also remembered CAFOD in her will. My niece Kate and I were given the opportunity to visit CAFOD projects in Nicaragua to see how legacies like my mother’s are put to use.
As one of my mother’s executors, and a CAFOD supporter myself, I was intrigued. I suppose you could call me a “curious sceptic”. But the work I saw in Nicaragua and the remarkable people I met there gave me a richer understanding and appreciation of what CAFOD does.
Beth Brook is part of the legacy and remembrance team. In 2012 she visited several CAFOD-funded projects in Nicaragua and hasn’t stopped talking about it ever since. Here she remembers some of the people she met and the lessons she learnt during her trip.
In my ten years at CAFOD I’ve met lots of wonderful supporters and volunteers and some of our overseas colleagues and partners. The highlight came three years ago, when I accompanied two lovely supporters on a trip to Nicaragua to make a short film (below) about how legacies left to the charity help families and communities thousands of miles away.
It was an exhausting but exhilarating adventure, and one that has left an indelible impression on me. There isn’t a day goes by when I don’t think about the people we met; about their optimism, determination, resourcefulness and sacrifices. They taught me so much.
I’d gone to Nicaragua expecting to see concrete examples of the difference that donations and legacies make, so I could then come back and write a mailing or newsletter about how X amount of money built Y and that benefited Z number of people. That’s how all this works, right? When planning the trip and film I’d made a point of identifying projects that addressed what are often referred to as “basic needs” such as water, housing and healthcare; but I just hadn’t appreciated the far-reaching and complex impact these “basic” projects would have on people’s lives.