Tania works as Communications Officer in our Latin America Team. Her role involves lots of opportunities to meet inspiring people like Edelmira, whose story of flourishing and achievement we are celebrating this Harvest Fast Day.
My first impressions of Edelmira when I met her in 2016, were of a friendly, welcoming woman, constantly busy. She was a little nervous of meeting me, a visitor from far away. I was also nervous about visiting Edelmira. CAFOD had sent me to interview her for our Connect2 El Salvador parish programme, and I was feeling the weight of responsibility!
Fidel and Julia live in Puentecitos, where they work improve life for their community with the support and solidarity of parishes in England and Wales through out Connect2:El Salvador programme. They asked us to share this advent message.
Dear Connect2 Puentecitos and CAFOD
We send warm greetings to all our friends working with CAFOD.
We were very happy that Clare and Bishop John came to our country, and especially that they came to visit us in our home, for Bishop John’s blessing on our family, with his hands that have been anointed by the Holy Spirit. This will help us to grow in our faith.
We admire Bishop John’s vocation as a representative of Christ, and his sacrifice in travelling from a land so far away to visit our country and our home. We feel blessed to have spent this time with a man who has given himself to God.
In November 2016, the Chair of CAFOD, Bishop John Arnold, visited El Salvador and Nicaragua. The last stop of his 10-day programme was to visit our friends in Puentecitos. These are some of his reflections.
We set off for a day in the rural area of Guaymango in the Department of Ahuachapan. It was about a two-hour journey to the West, almost to Guatemala. The good roads lasted until just a few miles from Guaymango and the last couple of miles were really nothing more than a single track of unmade road.
The scenery, however, was magnificent with mountains and volcanoes dominating the plain which stretched across to the ocean, which was clearly visible. Everything here is green and manages to remain so for most of the year. Agriculture is the basis of all livelihoods here though factories and assembly plants are increasingly present, together with small hotels which are hoping to see an increase in the tourist trade, particularly for what is apparently excellent surfing. This part of El Salvador was not so much directly affected by the war (1980-92) but many young men here were “pressed” into the army. The area has suffered in recent years by the increasing control of gangs.
Katie Thilthorpe works in the CAFOD Schools Team. She recently received a batch of letters and work from children in XII Apostles Primary School in Lancashire who have been exploring life in El Salvador.
“After I saw your beautiful landscape I wished I could live in El Salvador but the only thing that makes me sad is the water pollution. That’s why we are raising money for your country and right now we have £500. When we raise enough we will send it to CAFOD and they will send it to you. I hope that you will have nice clean water and I hope to see you and the Sierra Madre mountains one day.” Olivia, Year 4.
Since its release in 2015 primary schools across England and Wales have been using CAFOD’s El Salvador geography photo pack, including XII Apostles Primary School in Lancashire. All the children in the school aged 7-11 have been using the resources, and in March the pupils wrote letters to the four children featured in the pack. The school kindly sent some of the letters to us and I was lucky enough to read them.
The El Salvador pack, which can be ordered or downloaded online, includes a country map, information sheets, photo cards and links to brilliant online films, which bring the stories and themes from the pack to life. Continue reading “Learning about climate in class”
In 2014 Fidel and Julia shared how the Connect2: El Salvador community were starting to renovate their chapel. Since then, lots of work has taken place, and the chapel in Puentecitos looks very different now. It is built of brick, rather than clay, which means it should be more resistant to earthquake damage, and it is also a lot bigger. Fidel says: “We got the walls and roof on in about five months. We had some help to buy some of the materials, and the rest we raised ourselves by holding raffles and other fundraising activities.”
There is still some work to be done: the floor is unfinished, and there is a bit of electrical wiring to finish too, but Fidel says, these are “finishing touches”. They also plan to put a tabernacle on a shelf behind the altar and display the mementoes that Connect2 parishes have sent them.
Tania Dalton works in CAFOD’s Latin America Team. Inspired by Laudato Si’ she and a few colleagues are starting a small garden at the CAFOD Romero House office in London.
Mary and I have spent 3 lunchtimes shovelling compost in the CAFOD carpark, Janet has brought in tomato plants, Lucy has promised us a courgette, Tory donated some basil seeds and Al and Jamie have done some heavy lifting.
Why? In CAFOD we have been getting very excited about the One Climate, One World campaign. Our campaigns team have worked tirelessly on the mass lobby of parliament with many CAFOD supporters among the 9,000 crowd on 17 June, and now we have the new encyclical from Pope Francis – Laudato Si’, calling us to care for our common home.
There’s a lot of important big picture thinking, mobilising people and influencing policy makers (have you signed our petition?), but I just fancied getting my hands dirty, the smell in my nostrils of a freshly plucked tomato, and somewhere green and shady to sit and eat my sandwich. So we are making a garden on our office balcony in London. Continue reading “Tomatoes: a practical response to Laudato Si’”
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”
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.
Erasmo Valiente works with our partner Jesuit Development Service in El Salvador giving advice to farmers on how to keep crops healthy. In 2013 he visited Connect2 El Salvador parishes in England and was overwhelmed to discover that so many people in the UK have been inspired by the example of Archbishop Romero. His community in El Salvador is eagerly awaiting the beatification of Oscar Romero on 23 May when buses will take people from nearly every parish in the country to San Salvador and celebrations will be broadcast on television.
In El Salvador we refer to our martyr Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdámez as the voice of the voiceless. We call him this because always his primary concern was to speak out for the most excluded members of society, denouncing social injustice and military repression. His dedication to the poorest took the form of a pastoral conversion, and a spiritual commitment to lay down his life for the resurrection of our people.
His response to the death threats he received was, “If God accepts my life as sacrifice, my blood will be a seed of freedom”. His preaching was always full of humility and peace, and constant communication with God, which gave him the strength and wisdom to speak the truth freely and with dignity in defence of human life.
Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdámez knew that death was coming, but he chose not to escape the country; he stayed with his people, even after death. “As pastor, I am obliged by divine order to give my life for those I love, that is all Salvadorans, even those who will assassinate me. If they kill me, I will rise again in the Salvadoran People”. Continue reading “Oscar Romero: The voice of the voiceless”
Fidel and Julia are farmers in Puentecitos, El Salvador. They are part of the CAFOD Connect2 programme which enables parishes to develop a relationship of solidarity with a community in a country where CAFOD works. In 2013 they visited Connect2:El Salvador parishes in England and Wales. Here they share how people in Puentecitos are preparing for the beatification of Mons. Romero on 23 May.
Our family and our community Puentecitos are happy and joyous at the news that our bishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdámez is soon to be beatified by the Pope and the Church. Our families here in Puentecitos and in our parish are coming together in prayer. Every day we say this beautiful prayer:
Oh, Jesus, eternal shepherd, you made Oscar Romero, Servant of God, a living example of faith and charity and you granted him the grace to die at the foot of the altar in a supreme act of love for you.
Grant us, if it is your will, the grace of beatification, help us to follow his example of love for your church, your word and the Eucharist, and may we love you in the poor and needy. We ask this through the intercession of Our Lady, Queen of Peace.
Grant me please the favour I ask you, through the intercession of our Servant of God.