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.
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
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.
I’m Lizzie, I’ve just finished a placement at Just Youth in Salford as part of the Step into the Gap programme. Last Harvest I had a great experience speaking at Mass for Harvest Fast Day – I hope you will do the same this year!
During our training weekend for the Step into the Gap programme, we found out that we would have the chance to speak for CAFOD at Mass at both Harvest and Lent for Fast Day. Back in July this seemed a long time away, but it came around really quickly and before I knew it, it was time to organise our talks.
Preparing to speak at Mass
Although we were a bit nervous it’s actually really easy to prepare for speaking at Mass. The short talk is available on the website, along with lots of other great resources for Harvest. There are even resources specifically for young people planning to speak at Mass. If you’d like to meet up with other volunteers and local CAFOD staff in your area for you can go along to the Harvest briefings which are held in dioceses across England and Wales.
Antonia is a young leader from Sheffield. Here she shares her experience of volunteering with CAFOD, and speaking out for fairness and equality.
‘I really felt as though my talk had reached people. Not only had it raised awareness, it had also raised money and educated people so that they can also speak out for justice and equality.’ – Antonia
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a passion for helping others. I was always the first one to put money in the charity box or to purchase a wristband and badge at a fundraising stall. My mother has always taught me to be a generous person, and she says that sometimes it’s the smallest actions that can create the biggest impact.
In May I visited my local church in the hope that my small gestures may indeed amount to something much bigger.
Once I had learnt about CAFOD’s World Gifts range and enlightened others through assemblies at school, I felt the urge to spread the message to a wider community. I was amazed at how CAFOD could change so many people’s lives in this way and knew that it was my duty to pass this idea on to others. My initial instinct was to contact my childhood parish and try to organise a five minute slot where I could introduced CAFOD’s work on a deeper level and perhaps encourage others to get involved. Naturally, they had already heard about CAFOD and were more than happy for me to come in and speak to their congregation: I was delighted!
Three CAFOD volunteers from the Northampton diocese share their experience of preparing for Harvest Fast Day.
Mike Coote from St Teresa’s, Beaconsfield said:
Every year when my Fast Day pack arrives and the autumn leaves start to turn brown, I know it is time to start planning Harvest Fast Day. It is usually a meal where we share homemade soup and bread and people in the congregation make donations to CAFOD.
I am always really excited when my Fast Day pack arrives, I make sure that I put it at the back of the parish so that everyone can read about CAFOD when they leave and over the past few years, the simple poster has grown to a display which is visible from most places in the church. This way people can learn all about the fast day in more detail and they can really see who the appeal helps.
Each Fast Day, hundreds of CAFOD volunteers arrange to speak at Masses about how CAFOD is making a difference overseas. Jed Murphy, a volunteer from the Southwark diocese, is one of these volunteers. He shares with us how he started volunteering and his top tips for a successful Fast Day talk.
Just over seven years ago I had one of those life-changing moments. I had a day’s annual leave and was lazing on my couch at home. Around me was every conceivable gadget you could think of: large TV, games console, several tablets & smartphones. And I thought to myself: I have all this and yet so many people around the world have nothing. I could not help but think it wasn’t right.
I felt that something had to change. I had to try and do something to make a difference.
I had grown up with CAFOD. I knew that they helped people in need around the world: but I knew little more than that. So I found the CAFOD website, learned a little more about what they did and clicked on a link to apply to be a volunteer. I wasn’t sure what I could do, or how I could help.
As part of the process I met one of the regional volunteer managers. His name was Jim and he was amazing. One of the things that he suggested was whether I would be willing to speak at Masses and make the appeal in support of CAFOD’s Lent and Harvest Fast Days.
Ged Edwards, Volunteer Coordinator in Liverpool reflects on the incredible contribution from volunteers who speak at Mass.
Today, we are more aware than ever of other countries and of the lives of our brothers and sisters across the world. For many Catholics, this awareness goes way beyond booking the next holiday, and our relationship with our global family is especially close at key times of the year. Lent and Harvest Fast Days are times when we are particularly aware of our sisters and brothers overseas. At this time, we think about the support the Church offers through CAFOD.
Lent 2015 – Kyin Nu
During Lent this year, we introduced you to Kyin Nu – a woman from Myanmar who lost her two eldest children to a cyclone in 2008. Kyin Nu and her husband now have one precious daughter left. As the family faced terrible loss and powerlessness, CAFOD worked with our partner in Myanmar to help Kyin Nu’s community to restore buildings, farms and fisheries, and to construct new land defences. We have worked to make sure that next time – and, sadly, there will be a next time – Kyin Nu’s community know how to stay safe. Kyin Nu knows where to safely store her food so it doesn’t get ruined by salt water, where to run to when she hears the warning signal, and her daughter knows to pack an emergency bag filled with essentials like water, food and a blanket.
Carmel Donnelly, one of our volunteers in Salford, shared Kyin Nu’s story with her parish at Mass during Lent. A real person giving an account from their heart helps people to understand what’s going on in the world and what they can do to help. Carmel told me: “It was good to hear of a personal story, as it related to real people in need.” Continue reading “Speaking at Mass for CAFOD Fast Days”