How to mark Family Fast Day in your parish this Lent

Margaret Finn is a CAFOD supporter and parishioner at the Holy Name of Mary church in Middlesbrough. Here, Margaret writes about how the parish prepares for Family Fast Day at Lent.

Margaret is a CAFOD parish volunteer in Middlesbrough
Margaret is a CAFOD parish volunteer in Middlesbrough

Supporting CAFOD’s work is very important to people in our parish. We are always aware of those less fortunate than ourselves. This is across the age range of parishioners – from nursery children to grandparents. Children at St Edward’s, the school next door to the parish where I used to teach, take part with assemblies and fundraising events, while members of our Justice & Peace group help to prepare in the parish ahead of Ash Wednesday.

There are various things we do to get ready for Family Fast Day.

1. Pin up poster and put announcement in newsletter

A Family Fast Day poster
A Family Fast Day poster

Firstly, we have to let people know that Family Fast Day is coming up. We try to put up a poster at the entrance to the church and a notice in the newsletter a few weeks earlier so that people will be thinking about Lent before the season arrives. It’s always eye-catching and reminds us of the difference we can make.

This Lent, donate to CAFOD’s Family Fast Day Appeal and have your donations matched by the UK government

Continue reading “How to mark Family Fast Day in your parish this Lent”

Going vegan for Lent

Susy works in the Theology team at CAFOD. This Lent, inspired in part by Laudato Si’, she will be going vegan. She tells us more about her reasons for abstaining from animal products and what she’s going to miss the most.

Thirty years ago my brother showed me a video (yes, it was a video in those days!) of a factory farm and from that day on I have been vegetarian. Or, to be more accurate, pescatarian.

I decided that there was so much choice in terms of available food, that there was no need to eat meat. I didn’t find it hard to be honest and I do not miss meat at all. However, when I spent a year in Chile, I think I must have been one of only two vegetarians in the whole country and I was viewed as somewhat suspect!

Thirty years on, I am now preparing to go vegan for Lent and hoping that I will start getting into habits that may last a life-time.

Have you decided what to give up for Lent yet? Tell us on Twitter or take our Lent quiz for inspiration.

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The fish – a symbol of hope

Kathleen O’Brien writes our resources for secondary schools, and has been thinking about our scaly underwater friends during Lent.

What does the fish symbol mean?
What does the fish symbol mean?

How often do you notice those fish symbols on the back windscreen of cars? I see them all the time. I think most people now realise that they are a Christian symbol, but perhaps don’t know why. They may think the fish is used because Jesus’ first followers were fishermen.

Meet Bob the fish from Zambia Continue reading “The fish – a symbol of hope”

Two years on – what your Lent 2015 donations achieved

Thanks to your generosity during CAFOD’s Lent 2015 Appeal, the UK government matched your donations, giving £5 million to help families cope with the changing climate. David Mutua, CAFOD’s news officer based in Nairobi, visited one mother in Kenya who has benefited from your kindness.

Naomi in Kenya
Naomi has been shown ways to cope with the changing climate in Kenya

On the leeward side of the rolling hills of Samburu in Kenya, a cock crows as the rays of the rising sun cut across the landscape of Nomotio village. Naomi, 31, is already awake, and getting her three young children ready for school. After a light breakfast, Naomi bids them farewell and busies herself with the daily chores.

Donate to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal, so all can flourish Continue reading “Two years on – what your Lent 2015 donations achieved”

Fish fayres and fish prayers: learning about Zambia in school

Find out how CAFOD school volunteers Patrick and Isobel from the Portsmouth diocese have been inspiring children with stories about Florence and Bob the fish in Zambia this Lent.

“ It is truly heart-warming that our children have the ability to understand hardship, see injustice and unfairness and appreciate that they can play a practical part in making life for others just a little bit fairer.”

Introducing Bob the fish

We were introduced to ‘Bob’ the fish and Florence at our school volunteer training day in February, and we were impressed by the story and the idea of this project. The theme for this year’s Lent Fast Day was ‘Turn little fish into Big Fish and it focused on a community in Zambia which has been supported by CAFOD, working with local, expert partners, Sister Yvonne and The Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Bob the fish really appealed to the children, and we were inundated with volunteers when we asked for children to help stock our ‘bucket-pond’ with tiny fish. Children came up with a wide variety of fundraising event ideas which included buying little fish to fill a net, covering a large cut-out of ‘Bob’ in coin scales and paying to wear odd-combination clothes in school.

See how children and young people have been fundraising this Lent

Continue reading “Fish fayres and fish prayers: learning about Zambia in school”

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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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?!”

Continue reading “My Lent Challenge: Going ‘tea’-total!”

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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Lent 2016: Damian’s river run challenge

Damian Conlin, from our fundraising team, has set himself a Lent challenge to run 5km at least once a week to a local water source. He reflects on how his challenge has helped him think about those who need to take hours out of their day simply to collect the water they need to survive.

Damian and Hazel water challenges
Damian getting ready for his running challenge, with colleague Hazel who is also taking on a challenge this Lent

I rise early. I climb reluctantly from my warm bed and dress quietly in the dark, not wanting to wake my family. I stretch a few times then step out of the house into the cold morning. With only the faint glow of the streetlights to show me the way, I begin to run.

It is Lent and I have a new challenge. Before completing my usual morning routine and going to work, I have to find time at least once a week to go to the local river.

Donate to CAFOD’s Lent appeal

Elsewhere a young girl rises early. She too climbs reluctantly from her bed, dresses quickly and efficiently and leaves the family home. She lifts up the large water containers and begins to walk.

She too has a new challenge. She is now deemed old enough to take on certain responsibilities. So, instead of completing her usual morning routine of getting ready for school, she is going to the local river to collect water.

Despite the parallel storylines there are worlds of difference between the trips.

Continue reading “Lent 2016: Damian’s river run challenge”