Category Archives: CAFOD Birmingham

Laudato Si’: generating enough energy to empower the world!

Susy Brouard is CAFOD’s Theological Advisor. Susy has twelve years experience of facilitating workshops on Catholic Social Teaching. But never has she come across a text which has produced so much energy from her participants. She explains why.

Laudato Si'- singing for joy

Parishioners in Birmingham sing, inspired by Laudato Si’

To be perfectly honest with you, Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Laudato Si’, is a facilitator’s dream.

I say this as someone who has, during the last week, facilitated three different workshops on the encyclical. Each workshop – the first with CAFOD volunteers in Birmingham, the second at the CAFOD headquarters with staff, and the third with members of an Anglican Church in central London – filled the participants with energy and joy. In fact, the Birmingham volunteers took Pope Francis’ words of ’sing as you go’ to heart and ended their day of reflection by singing and dancing a conga in the garden!

So what is it about this encyclical that produces so much energy?  This encyclical is unique because it is addressed to every citizen of the earth. Since he wants to communicate with everybody, Pope Francis writes with great clarity and directness. He tells it as it is – the good, the bad and the ugly. It is like looking in a mirror and we realise what madness it is that as humans we are systematically destroying “our common home”.

Liberating effect

While this may be seen as depressing, it is also liberating. We are confronted with what we have done and we can decide whether to continue as we are, or make changes to the way we live and consume. In the workshops, we spent time reflecting on the symptoms of overdevelopment which Pope Francis describes in the first chapter of his encyclical; climate change, mining, water pollution and global inequality, amongst others. From our reading, we came up with key elements that we thought were essential for progress; elements such as education, love, justice, understanding, mindfulness, sacrifice and, of course, God!

Join us in prayer

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Filed under CAFOD, CAFOD Birmingham, Climate Change, Prayer

Students from Blessed William Howard Speak Up For the Love Of

Students from Blessed William Howard Catholic High School travelled from Wolverhampton to London on the day of the Speak Up For The Love Of climate lobby to meet their MP. In this blog they reflect on their experience.

Students from Wolverhampton with their MP

Students from Wolverhampton with Jeremy Lefroy MP

On 17 June a group of nine of us from Blessed William Howard travelled to London. We had made a short video clip about climate change as part of the Close-up on Climate film project, and excitingly our video got chosen to be shown at the Speak Up For The Love Of rally at the end of the day.

After a long journey we went to the ecumenical service which was really lovely, as everyone joined in and became united in their belief of addressing climate change. We planned to meet our local MP, Jeremy Lefroy, in the houses of Parliament. We were talking to him for an hour and forty five minutes. What we learnt was very interesting. We asked him several questions, and some even caught him out.

Asking tricky questions

One question we asked was: “It is all about leading by example, so what are you doing to make the Houses of Parliament more green?” He didn’t give a straight answer. This proves that we all need to keep pressurising the government to do things locally to make a difference. Continue reading

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Filed under CAFOD Birmingham, Campaigning, Climate Change

Step into the Gap – first blog from Zimbabwe!

The Step into the Gap volunteers arrive in Zimbabwe

The Step into the Gap volunteers arrive in Zimbabwe

We have arrived, safe and sound in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. The weather is beautiful – sunny and warm. The journey was long and tiring, but we were all very excited to get our first view of Harare in the drive from the airport. Many things were surprising and new to us – people grilling corn on the cob on stones at the side of the road, people selling newspapers in the middle of the traffic or carrying crates of bread on their heads. We were all ready for the lovely evening meal at the Dominican Convent, where we received a very warm welcome from the sisters, which immediately made us feel at ease and at home.

Find out more and apply for the Step into the Gap programme

Getting ready for a long awaited good night’s sleep turned out to be more eventful than expected. Leila locked herself out of her room and camped out on Lizzie’s floor, Lizzie temporarily broke the tap in the shower, Keiron overcame his fear of spiders thanks to the company of a particularly big black one in his room, and although Mary was missing her phone and the internet, all in all, we enjoyed a great rest.

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Filed under Africa, CAFOD, CAFOD Birmingham, greatgeneration, Volunteering

Pray with us: Enjoying creation

Abigail Mcmillan sharing her love of water, as part of The Climate Coalition’s For the love of action

Abigail sharing her love of water, as part of The Climate Coalition’s For the love of action

Tackling climate change is a top priority for CAFOD because it’s making it even harder to end poverty. But we won’t get anywhere without your prayer, action and changing the way we live our lives, which is why we’re launching our One Climate, One World campaign in September.

Share what you love most that’s threatened by climate change>>>

Here CAFOD’s diocesan manager for Birmingham, Abigail Mcmillan, shares with us a prayer she wrote inspired by her love for the natural world.

“I spend a lot of time feeling very removed from the natural world, leading a busy urban life. Yet so much of what I love is threatened by climate change: lush green trees; the coast of my native Wales; water where it’s needed, when it’s needed; long walks with my family…the list goes on.

I’m often reminded that creation is a gift from God, entrusted to us to care for, to share its fruits with all of humanity and to preserve for future generations all over the world.

For me the natural world offers joy; as climate change makes life more precarious for the poorest people, I wanted to combine the joy of the natural world with a sense of responsibility for the planet and all who live on it.”

Abigail’s prayer:

Generous God,
Let us revel in the joy of your creation
and value the wealth of the earth
by sharing the gifts you
have showered upon us.

Let us revel in the warmth of your love
like sun on our skin
and be filled with desire
to serve all of creation.

Abigail McMillan/CAFOD

Discover more of our prayers and reflections >>>

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Filed under CAFOD Birmingham, Campaigning, Climate Change

Side by Side Question Time: Do big demonstrations make a difference?

In the spring issue of Side by Side we’re asking:

“Thousands of people will join IF campaign rallies this summer. Do big demonstrations make a difference?”

Have you ever taken part in a demonstration? Do you think mass rallies are important or are they a waste of time? Does anyone really pay attention to them? Or does the sight of thousands of people coming together make a statement nothing else could match?

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Filed under Asia, CAFOD, CAFOD Birmingham, Campaigning, UK