Every Friday, we offer you a reflection on the Sunday gospel. This week’s reflection was written by Roisin Beirne, who works in CAFOD’s Legacy team. It is based on the gospel for Sunday 5 November- Matthew 23:1-12.
“Anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Roisin, from our legacy team, would like to share a reflection on this Sunday's gospel reading from Matthew. Please join us in prayer.
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.
Hannah Caldwell, CAFOD’s legacy officer, reflects on how gifts in wills help communities look to the future with hope.
The Oxford dictionary defines the word “legacy” as: “Something left or handed down by a predecessor.”
Working for CAFOD’s legacy team, I always think of a legacy in hugely positive terms. To me, it means a gift, carefully and faithfully given, to help continue the values of love and hope that a person held dear during their lifetime. It’s a gift that will reach out and help build a brighter future for generations to come.
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.
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.