Why I volunteer: “life and faith are interconnected”

Margaret, a spirituality volunteer from the Shrewsbury diocese, shares the strong role of her faith, and how this motivates her to volunteer.

I have always been interested in the work of CAFOD, and inspired and impressed by its spirit, which is rooted in the Gospel. For me, having faith cannot be separated from living this faith, in the reality of everyday life.

I have spent my professional life in education, in one form or another. My last job was Assistant Director of Schools in the Diocese of Shrewsbury, where I worked for 11 ½ years. I retired in July 2011, and since then I have been involved in working in different parishes around the Diocese, delivering both training and reflective sessions for readers, Eucharistic Ministers, parish retreats, and so on.

CAFOD staff and volunteers join Bishop John Arnold in prayer in Romero House
CAFOD staff and volunteers join Bishop John Arnold in prayer in Romero House

At present, I am working as a spirituality volunteer. This includes helping to prepare liturgies for various occasions, linking Scripture with CST, and rooting this in everyday life. Who knows what else I may do!

See more of our volunteer opportunities

Continue reading “Why I volunteer: “life and faith are interconnected””

Why I volunteer – to be “part of a vital piece of God’s machinery”

Portsmouth CAFOD volunteers show their love at a supporter meeting
Portsmouth CAFOD volunteers show their love at a supporter meeting

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!

See more of our volunteering opportunities

The next supporters’ meeting I was able to attend.  As a result of it, my attitude to volunteering with CAFOD changed.

Continue reading “Why I volunteer – to be “part of a vital piece of God’s machinery””

Why I volunteer: “we must care for each other and be good stewards”

Ahead of Volunteers’ Week, we asked a number of CAFOD volunteers to share why volunteering with CAFOD is important to them.  One volunteer, Trevor Stockton, has been an active volunteer for more that 40 years in the Birmingham diocese.  Here, he shares his inspiration for volunteering and tips for those wanting to get involved. 

My volunteer work with CAFOD has been an important part of my life, especially my spiritual life, since the early 1970s. I was inspired by Pope Paul’s encyclical ‘Populorum Progressio’ and by Dom Helder Camara and his work in Brazil.

My whole working career was in social work and so my commitment to people who are disadvantaged was already active. So, parish involvement in Lent and Harvest Fast Days, and campaigns such as that against apartheid in South Africa were my starting points with CAFOD.

Find your starting point for volunteering with CAFOD

Continue reading “Why I volunteer: “we must care for each other and be good stewards””

Speaking at Mass: telling real stories of real people

CAFOD young leader practices Lent Fast Day talk
A CAFOD young leader practices the Lent Fast Day talk

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.

And I have been doing that for the last seven years. Continue reading “Speaking at Mass: telling real stories of real people”

Step into the Gap – Welcome to the new CAFOD gap year volunteers!

We’d like to introduce the new CAFOD gap year volunteers! They’ve been settling into their new placements with our Step into the Gap scheme and have each written a few words on their hopes for the year ahead.

Bea – Nottingham 

Bea has joined Step into the Gap in Nottingham
Bea has joined Step into the Gap in Nottingham

Hello I’m Bea and I’m part of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme based at The Briars Catholic Youth Retreat Centre in the Nottingham Diocese. I wanted to explore my passion for social justice, so when the opportunity arose to be on the Step into the Gap programme I jumped at the chance! And I can’t believe I’m part of – it’s so exciting!

Continue reading “Step into the Gap – Welcome to the new CAFOD gap year volunteers!”

“Like a dry weary land without water” – Volunteer Sr Carmel Ring reflects on Harvest Fast Day

With Harvest Fast Day activities and preparation starting this weekend, Sister Carmel, a religious Sister of Marie Auxiliatrice from the Parish of Our Lady of Muswell in North London, reflects on how God calls us to not only empathise with our brothers and sisters living in poverty, but to put that care into action. Sister Carmel, a retired teacher and missionary, and now a CAFOD Westminster volunteer, explains how you and your parish can help.

When during Morning Prayer on the Feast of the Transfiguration I came across the lines “my body pines for you like a dry weary land without water” (Psalm 63), my mind went immediately to the people of Niger, the poorest country in the world, who like too many others on our planet are in the throes of another terrible drought and  its consequent crop failure and lack of food for thousands. I reflected on the request of our Holy Father in Laudato Si’, where he invites us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and sense how it is for them, and felt compelled to do something about this dreadful situation.

Find resources for fundraising in you parish this Harvest Fast Day

This Harvest CAFOD is telling the story of Hamani, a 74 year-old farmer from the village of Doutchi in southern Niger. A man struggling, with pride and perseverance, to grow enough produce to feed his family and have something over to share with his less fortunate neighbours. Given the havoc being wrought time and again, year in year out since 2010 this is a well-nigh impossible task but nevertheless he is still confident that given some help from us he will manage to grow enough to eat and put aside some seeds to sow for next year’s harvest.  He is not looking for hand-outs, just enough to help him survive with dignity and become self-reliant.

Continue reading ““Like a dry weary land without water” – Volunteer Sr Carmel Ring reflects on Harvest Fast Day”

‘Thanks to CAFOD, I’m not missing out on the world.’

Orla, from London, recently spent a week volunteering at the CAFOD Romero House office. Find out why she thinks young people care about climate change, and who inspired her during her time with the CAFOD team.

Orla volunteering in CAFOD's Romero House office
Orla volunteering in CAFOD’s Romero House office

As an internet-savvy teenager, I have the sort of constant access, 24 hours a day, to the world via social media that my parents never even dreamt of. It’s all there, virtually, and for better or worse, at the touch of a button. News is readily available, telling me stories from half way across the world that I share while sitting on my sofa at home.

For my generation, therefore, the world seems like a smaller place than ever before. And that is reinforced by living and going to school in London. I am part of one of the most ethnically diverse communities anywhere on the globe. In my year group of 96 at my Catholic school, I am one of only four whose parents and grandparents were born and brought up in the UK. So I can learn about such a variety of different cultures by just talking to the person sitting next to me in class.

Speaking Up on 17 June

When looking around my class I know of many members of my friendship group who feel too swept up in the shallowness and unfulfilment that comes with social media. One of the integral parts of my Catholic school is to reach out and help others through charity work. Therefore I know of so many of my peers who seized the opportunity to take part in the Speak Up for the Love of… climate lobby on the 17 June.

Read about the lobby

CAFOD supporters of all ages at the Climate Coalition lobby
CAFOD supporters of all ages Speak Up at the Climate Coalition lobby of parliament

I believe that young people in our society often get the reputation of being uncaring delinquents. However, I speak for many my age when I stress that being a teenager in a world where suffering is so present, where the future of the planet we have to grow up in seems to be spiralling out of control, where the effects of climate change are already being seen, really terrifies us and leaves us feeling powerless.

Continue reading “‘Thanks to CAFOD, I’m not missing out on the world.’”