CAFOD director: “Lent and Lent Fast Day is a unique time for reflection”

Chris Bain is CAFOD’s Director. Here he reflects on what CAFOD’s Fast Day means to him and why it is important to come together as a Catholic family this Lent.

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CAFOD Director Chris Bain with a CAFOD Young Leader

Here in Romero House, our Ash Wednesday Mass is rather special. There is a strong sense of community – we stand together, we pray together and we take Communion together. The Mass ends and many of us begin the first fast of Lent by sharing a simple lunch together. And unlike Carol Monaghan, the SNP MP attending a parliamentary committee just after her Ash Wednesday Mass, there is no awkwardness about wearing our ash crosses in our offices.

Eat a simple soup lunch and give what you save

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Fast Day: Three simple soups to share from our families

CAFOD Writer Mark Chamberlain collects three recipes from his colleagues to share with you in case you need inspiration for your Friday fast. Thank you to everyone involved!

Simple soups are all the rage here at CAFOD this Lent. I sat down with a colleague on Monday and we each shared some. If food was music, his was a clever symphony of kale and spinach. Mine was a panicked free-jazz improvisation on the theme of black beans and veg.

In advance of our fast on Friday together, here are three recipes from my wonderful colleagues’ families, just in case you needed inspiration.

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Lent Long read: We can end AIDS by 2030

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Chidikamwedzi Support Group in Zimbabwe

Ilona Sips is CAFOD’s HIV knowledge management coordinator. As we begin Lent, she shares how we shouldn’t give up now in our goal to end AIDS by 2030 and how, thanks to your help, people in Zimbabwe are taking control of their lives.

There was recently some good news for the people of Zimbabwe: the country is well on track to meet the UN global goal of ending AIDS by 2030. Yet, the last part of any challenge, is always the hardest.

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The first Family Fast Day

CAFOD was founded when women from the National Board of Catholic Women, the Catholic Women’s League and the Union of Catholic Mothers organised the first CAFOD Family Fast Day in 1960. Mildred Nevile, who was involved at the time, shares her memories of this key moment in CAFOD history.

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The group who organised the first Family Fast Day, with CAFOD’s first partner, Sr Alicia.

When Fast Day first took place, many families saw it as an opportunity to practice giving something up – voluntarily – and for the sake of others.

In the early 1960s, the Catholic community was much less affluent than it is today. Many people had known hardship and poverty and had sympathy for those who were struggling to survive.

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Frequently those opening the envelopes from Fast Day appeals were deeply humbled by the letters that accompanied donations. Continue reading “The first Family Fast Day”

My Lent Challenge: Going ‘tea’-total!

Tom, from CAFOD’s fundraising team, challenged himself to give up hot drinks for Lent. He tells us how he got on, and reflects on how the generosity of CAFOD supporters in the UK is helping people like those he met in Kenya.

CAFOD's Tom has his first cup of tea since the start of Lent
First brew and a slice of brack – Happy Easter!

This Lent, I took on a challenge very different to my usual no-sweet-things observance. In line with CAFOD’s aqua themed fundraising appeal, I decided to take up a water challenge and drink no hot drinks for 40 days and 40 nights.

There is still time to donate to CAFOD’s Lent appeal and help change lives

For some people this would be fairly straight forward. But I come from a long line of tea drinkers and would usually have at least 3 cups a day. A visit to my Nan’s is synonymous with having a brew, and if you were to turn one down you’d immediately be confronted with a “What’s wrong?!”

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Running for water: Unexpected challenges

Damian Conlin, from our fundraising team, took on a new challenge this Lent, one that mirrors the challenge faced by thousands of young girls around the world. With Lent over, he reflects on some of the difficulties he expected to face, and others that surprised him.

CAFOD Lent Appeal Damian at the river for his Lent challenge
Damian at the river he ran to every week in Lent

I’ve (just about) been keeping up with my Lent challenge of running to water once a week.

For the most part, the experience has been what I expected. That is, I knew I’d find it difficult. I’ve always enjoyed sports and still do exercise, but running has never really been my thing. 5km is not a particularly long way, but my body has always made it pretty clear it considers itself to have been built for running distances of 50-60 metres tops.

There is still time to donate to CAFOD’s Lent appeal and help change lives

So there’s been lots of wheezing and knee creaking. Observers would be forgiven for thinking my Lent challenge has been to perfect my impression of a man running backwards. But there have also been a couple of things I did not expect.

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CAFOD Lent challenges: What we learned and what we’ll remember

Mariacristina Lubrano from our digital team tells us about her colleagues who have taken up some really exciting challenges this Lent.

CAFOD staff ready for Lent challenges
CAFOD staff at the beginning of our challenges

Back in February, right at the beginning of Lent, I shared my excitement about the number of extraordinary challenges that some of my colleagues had set themselves.

Some decided to fundraise for the CAFOD Lent appeal, seizing the amazing opportunity to double their impact with match funding.

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.

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Lenten works of mercy: Love and mercy in action

Our final Friday blog on Lenten works of mercy is from schools volunteer Penny Morse.

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Guti (far left) and her friends collecting safe clean water from a local pump in Uganda.

During Lent I have been visiting  primary schools in the Clifton diocese, meeting children and sharing stories from Uganda in assemblies and workshops. In this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis e invites us to be living signs of Jesus’ love. This Lent I’ve really seen these living signs of love and mercy lived out through children’s actions.

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Here’s a flavour of what I’ve observed these past few weeks.

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Elly’s Lent challenge: Swimming the length of the English channel!

CAFOD’s Eleanor Heans-Glogowska set herself the challenge of swimming the length of the English Channel over the course of the 40 days of Lent.

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Elly is swimming the length of the English channel this Lent!

This Lent I set myself the challenge of swimming 22 miles – the length of the English Channel.

Good Friday is approaching and I can almost see the French coast appearing on the horizon! I’ve now got just 300 lengths left of my Lent Channel Challenge.

Support CAFOD’s Lent Appeal

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.

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Youth leaders: messages of hope for refugees

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CAFOD ambassadors at Romero House

Sarah Burrows from CAFOD’s Youth team describes how young people have been writing messages of love and hope for refugees .

CAFOD ambassadors from retreat and outreach teams have spent the past few months reflecting on the refugee crisis, responding by raising awareness and gathering messages of hope and love for refugees from the young people they work with. At the beginning of March the group came down to London to bring their messages to Parliament, and speak to their MPs about the refugee crisis. The day before, we had the chance to gather together, halfway through Lent, to reflect on the fact that refugees are such a huge part of the Year of Mercy, they are “brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.” (Pope Francis, 2014)

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