Father Ed O’Connell is one of our Connect2: Peru narrators. He is a Columban missionary priest who has been working in Peru since the 1970s. He is one of the founders of our Connect2: Peru partner Warmi Huasi. From June until September 2016 he was in the UK on a home visit, and took the opportunity to go to some CAFOD supporter meetings in Bristol and Birmingham.
I have been in Bristol and Birmingham with CAFOD and representatives of Connect2 parishes. It was an opportunity for me to meet people from the parishes and to hear their desire to get closer to the work of CAFOD through the work in Peru. People asked lots of questions about CAFOD in general and the children Warmi Huasi works with. I enjoy visiting as a way to offer thanks for people in the Church here sending me to Peru, and also as a way of staying in touch with the local Church in England and Wales. I think it is important to make links between the local church in England and Wales and the local Church in Peru and the projects they run.
When I left Peru in June, Keiko Fujimori’s party had won total control of congress in the first round of the presidential elections. In the second round, Pedro Pablo Kuczyinski beat Keiko Fujimori only by 0.43% to become the president.
People are mixed in their responses. At the moment, people are unsure how the presidential elections will affect their daily lives at a local level. But people are frustrated. Young people are in jobs that require long hours – working like new slaves. More and more people are studying at university without job prospects once they graduate.
Ahead of Volunteers’ week, we asked a number of CAFOD volunteers to share their experiences with us. Here, Anne-Marie McBrien, a parish volunteer in the Portsmouth diocese, tells us why she makes time in a very busy schedule to help:
Firstly – because I was asked to! This is a very important point, I think, as lots of people don’t realise that CAFOD always needs more people to help and that you don’t need to do much to make a difference.
I was asked by an older parishioner to take on the role because she was tired and her husband was ill and I am younger and more mobile. I resisted at first because I do so many other things, and I have so little time, but I said yes because she needed someone to take it off her. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to devote any time to CAFOD. I was invited to, but couldn’t make, the supporter’s meeting just after I had taken on the role. I didn’t think it mattered really, as I gave the short talk at mass for Lent and I put up the posters I was sent. I felt I was too busy with other church things, school responsibilities and latterly, the Scouts. Too much to do!
“Connect2Brazil wishes you all a Merry Christmas! We are very happy with the Christmas cards we received from children and parishes England & Wales, and with the exchange of experiences. The children in Divinéia were really happy with your messages.” Zeza, Divinéia community leader and Connect2: Brazil narrator.
“Connect2Brazil will continue in our hearts forever. This exchange between local communities, this sharing and linking will be with us always. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for all in England and Wales, and especially for the children!” Terezinha, Connect2: Brazil, Divinéia community.
Left: Children in Divinéia with cards from the Connect2: Brazil parishes.
Right: Zeza and Terezinha with Christmas cards.
If your parish would like to join Connect2, you can sign up here.