How Oscar Romero is relevant in parish life today

 Father Rob Esdaile is the Parish Priest of Our Lady of Lourdes in Surrey. He visited El Salvador in 1999 and shares his reflections on what Blessed Oscar Romero can teach us today.

Father Rob's reflections about Romero
Father Rob visited Oscar Romero’s El Salvador in 1999

I had the privilege of going to El Salvador early in 1999 in the company of Father John Medcalf, a fellow diocesan priest (who had himself worked in both El Salvador and Nicaragua). John had been invited to observe the presidential elections and thought it would do me good to go along.

Even 19 years after the murder of El Monseñor and 7 years after the end of El Salvador’s Civil War, the wounds caused by the violence he denounced lay just below the surface.  My visit was punctuated by encounters with the bereaved, with witnesses to atrocity, and with places stained still with memories of blood.

But I also visited the hospital chapel where Romero died saying Mass and the little bungalow next door where he lived in utter simplicity.  And I prayed at his tomb in the Cathedral of San Salvador, where it became apparent that already the people understood that he was their saint – San Romero.

Find prayers and reflections to give thanks for Blessed Oscar Romero’s life

As I reflect on the story of the Archbishop 35 years after his Martyrdom in my comfortable, wealthy, beautiful, non-violent suburban London parish, three things strike me.

Continue reading “How Oscar Romero is relevant in parish life today”

Election 2015: questions to ask your candidates

Dom Goggins
Dom Goggins from CAFOD’s Government Relations team

Dom Goggins works in the Government Relations team at CAFOD. He looks back at political progress made on climate change and looks forward to a busy general election period.

With so much at stake in the next few months – a general election focusing on vital issues around the economy, the NHS and the UK’s role in Europe among other things – climate change can sometimes feel like a distant challenge – something we can put to one side for now and deal with in the future.

That might even be the case for many of us in the UK, but climate change already has a devastating impact on many of the poor communities we work with around the world; amplifying existing social, political and economic inequalities and pushing people over the edge. Ultimately, as the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said, “if we don’t confront climate change we won’t end poverty”.

Find out about CAFOD’s One Climate, One World campaign

2014 Progress

Important progress was made in 2014. CAFOD’s MP Correspondents* played a key part by asking the Prime Minister to show his commitment to climate change by attending a special UN summit hosted by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon – and he did! At the summit he echoed CAFOD’s call that the UK should “help those who need it, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable”. Continue reading “Election 2015: questions to ask your candidates”

Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Farewell

CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers in Zimbabwe have come to the end of their visit. Here are their thoughts as they head home:

We’ve reached the final day of an amazing trip, where we’ve been immersed in Zimbabwean culture, met so many inspirational people and have so much we can’t wait to share back with communities in England and Wales. As we prepare to catch our flight home, here are just some of our reflections.

Learn more about CAFOD’s gap year

Mary

Mary
Mary

Wow. Looking back through my journal of the past three and a bit weeks, we have been so privileged to meet so many amazing people and witness such a wide range of CAFOD supported projects. Although the projects have been varied, a reoccurring theme has been prevalent throughout – the overwhelmingly strong sense of “togetherness” and community here in Zimbabwe. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Farewell”

Step into the Gap – Our week at Mashambanzou

CAFOD’s gap year volunteers in Zimbabwe have been learning about our work supporting people with HIV and AIDS:

CAFOD's gap year volunteers saw the work our partner Mashambanzou does for those living with HIV and AIDS
CAFOD’s gap year volunteers saw the work our partner Mashambanzou does for those living with HIV and AIDS

HIV and AIDS is something we’re all aware of and have heard about, but until we were immersed in the reality of Zimbabwe, we could not truly appreciate the impact it has on the individuals affected, their livelihoods, families and communities. However, within a situation which can sometimes seem hopeless and desperate, we have been truly inspired by the work of the Mashambanzou Care Trust.

Find out more about CAFOD’s HIV and AIDS work

Mashambanzou is a CAFOD partner which ultimately aims to see HIV-free communities through empowerment, care and support. They work mainly in poor, overcrowded areas of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. Over the past week we have witnessed many incredible projects, such as a children’s day care centre, child protection clubs in schools, and home visits to people living with HIV. Continue reading “Step into the Gap – Our week at Mashambanzou”

Step into the Gap Nicaragua – Bernadette: The joy of living is to serve

Bernadette is one of CAFOD‘s Step into the Gap volunteers. She’s currently working as a chaplain at St. Mary’s Catholic Academy in Blackpool and is visiting CAFOD partners in Nicaragua.

Hola from Nicaragua. There is so much I want to share with you already and I think the easiest way is to give you an insight into the trip so far to give people a whole view of the experience. So here goes, when I said in my pre blog about looking forward to the opportunity to see the work that CAFOD is involved in I never realised how much I would experience so quickly.

Find out about Step into the Gap

Practising for CYMFED Flame 2
Practising for CYMFED Flame 2

On our first full day in Managua, the capital city, we headed out as a group to meet the Central America CAFOD team based here in Managua. This was an opportunity to find out about what the team here focuses on, not only in Nicaragua but throughout Central America. We spent time looking at various aspects such as the work around gender and HIV, livelihoods, human rights and weather.

Continue reading “Step into the Gap Nicaragua – Bernadette: The joy of living is to serve”

Ebola Crisis: On leaving Sierra Leone

Caritas_Sierra Leone_Tommy Trenchard_Oct (9)
CAFOD’s work includes promoting good hygiene and training communities in how to stop the spread of the disease.

Catherine Mahony, CAFOD’s  Humanitarian Coordinator for West Africa, has been working on Ebola in Sierra Leone for the last three months. She reflects on coming home.

Donate to CAFOD’s Ebola crisis appeal

This week I’ll be taking the boat to the airport to leave Sierra Leone, three months to the day since I arrived.

I remember well the apprehension I felt when I first came in on that boat, mainly at the enormity of the task and the scale of the crisis.

In October last year we were preparing ourselves for the possibility that 1.4 million people would be infected with Ebola by the end of the year if we didn’t massively step up our efforts.

As of the 25 January, the World Health Organisation estimates that the cumulative confirmed, probable and suspected cases across Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea stands at 21,724 and the graphs finally seem to be flattening out, showing fewer cases per day. It’s still too many lives lost, but thankfully not our worst case scenario.

At last, districts in Sierra Leone are crossing the ‘Ebola free’ threshold, having passed 42 days without a new case. I feel a sense of relief that we were able to prevent the worst and our optimism albeit small is allowed to grow a little every day.

So many people have made an extraordinary effort to get us to this point: the local health workers who selflessly stepped up to care for the sick and dying, 221 of whom here in Sierra Leone lost their lives to Ebola; the brave men and women who volunteered to join burial teams and dig graves, every day facing the strain of grieving families; and the people across England and Wales who’ve generously donated to CAFOD. Continue reading “Ebola Crisis: On leaving Sierra Leone”