A Novena to Saint Francis

Celeste and Marine, CAFOD staff in the diocese of Southwark, are inviting all the CAFOD supporters to join them in a Novena to St Francis at the end of the Season of Creation from Saturday 26th September to Sunday 4th October.

A season like no other

We are coming to the end of The Season of Creation which started running from 1 September (World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation) and will finish on 4 October (the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi).  This ecumenical season is dedicated to prayer and action for the protection of creation. It is a time to renew our relationships with God our Creator, and with all creation, as we join together in prayer. We give thanks for all that God has made, repent for the damage that we have caused and commit ourselves to take action to protect the earth our common home.  This year we have been made acutely aware of how interconnected we all are, and so we come together in hope that we can rebuild and heal our world. 

Discover the Novena to Saint Francis

What is the Novena to St Francis?

The Novena is made of nine brief reflections asking St Francis of Assisi to pray for us and our world, based on his beautiful Canticle of the Sun. This novena is a song of penitence and praise, guiding us to care for the earth and for our most vulnerable sisters and brothers, especially the Amazon peoples. They are currently under grave risk from coronavirus, given their fragile situation, often in remote locations far from government services.

Communities with whom we work are reporting a sharp increase in predatory attacks on land. People smugglers are also active and those being trafficked are in more danger than ever, having no access to healthcare. The pandemic shows us that “we have not heard the cry of the poor and our seriously ill planet” warns Pope Francis, describing this as “a time to choose what matters and what passes away”. (Urbi et Orbi, 2020)

How to do the Novena to St Francis with us ?

  1. Book a slot in your diary from 26th September to 4 October at 9 am or 7 pm (that’s when we will be doing it but you can choose your own timing!)
  2. Five minutes before the time open this link from CAFOD website : https://cafod.org.uk/Pray/Prayer-resources/Novena-to-St-Francis
  3. At the time you have decided to start, scroll the page to the video you need for the day ( 26th Sept = Prayer 1 = Sun) and click on the play button  
  4. Each has four phases: Canticle; Amazon voice; penitential prayer; plea for intercession.
  5. Each Video is less than a minute long so, do not hesitate to put the video on pause to reflect on what you have just heard, add your own penitential prayer and your intercession
    • Each Day do the same but change the video – For example – 27th Sept : Prayer 2 : Night Sky
    • Please send us a text saying “I joined the Novena” to let us know you were on with us, or send us a picture of what creation is for you on Whatsapp messages (07710094446), or tweets @CAFODSouthwark, or facebook posts https://www.facebook.com/cafodsouthwark/ or emails (southwark@cafod.org.uk).

Inspirational talk from Maria Gonzalez at the South East Regional Harvest Appeal Planning Meeting

CAFOD Arundel & Brighton Blog

On Saturday 19 October, over seventy CAFOD parish volunteers and supporters from the dioceses of Westminster, Portsmouth, East Anglia, Brentwood, Southwark and Arundel and Brighton came together for a Zoom ‘Harvest Appeal’ planning meeting.

The meeting began with a prayer and reflection after which, Maria Gonzalez, CAFOD’s Head of International Development, and guest speaker, pondered on Pope Francis’ words at his General Audience on 19 August when he said; ‘our response to the pandemic must be twofold:, finding a cure for this small terrible virus, but also curing a larger virus, that of social injustice, inequality of opportunity, marginalisation and lack of protection for the weakest.’ She contined that we must combat indiffierence, this throwaway culture, and be converted from individualism to enable our brothers and sisters to survive, heal and rebuild their lives…

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Living Out A Christian Mission

Incredibly talented volunteer, Andy Wandsbury, shares his experience of living out his Christian mission and how being part of CAFOD has been an expression of this mission.

Andy Wansbury shares with us how volunteering with CAFOD has helped him to find a way back to the Church and a community.

Andy Wansbury shares with us how volunteering with CAFOD has helped him to find a way back to the Church and a community.

I moved to a new parish in 2000. I involved myself in parish life, I became a catechist for confirmation and was part of the music ministry.  I had to step back from some of my commitments to assist my Father as he began his end of life journey.  After my Dad’s death in 2012 I found that I was no longer included in some activities.  I felt excluded and rejected.  The only reason I could surmise was that some people thought I should not have stepped back from parish activities to support my Dad.

I felt that I no longer had a parish, only a place for Sunday mass.  I spent a long-time discerning God’s will. Then in 2016 Eileen Hayes (CAFODs Community Participation Coordinator in the Southwark Diocese at the time) spoke at the Lent Family Fast Day appealing for volunteers.  I put myself forward thinking I could be a parish speaker, but God had other plans. I found myself not only a parish speaker but as an education volunteer. I had a found a way back to a community and church life.

Inspiring the local Church Communities

Andy Wansbury in Bexley with other CAFOD volunteers at Lent 2018

Andy Wansbury in Bexley with other CAFOD volunteers at Lent 2018

I have visited parishes all over South London and Kent, each very different, giving me an insight into the ways Mass can be celebrated to answer the needs of its local community.  As well as talking about who needs our help, I appeal for volunteers for CAFOD, explaining the many ways people can help.  I think that at every parish I have spoken I have always had at least one person come forward wanting to know more about working with CAFOD. I hope that my visits make a real impression and if only for that reason I arrive on a very big red Harley Davidson motorcycle.  You may have seen it on some of CAFOD’s tweets.

Explore how to inspire your church community 

Helping the future generation

Andy and his Harley Davidson

Andy and his Harley Davidson

As an Education Volunteer I have spoken in many local primary schools talking to pupils about CAFOD’s work. I ask them to tell at least one person something that they have learnt about CAFOD, and say it will make a difference.  I tell them how I know it will.  At school my daughter was taught how to clap in sign language; she came home and taught it to me. I wasn’t expecting to find it useful, but a few weeks later I went to a very special rugby match: the inaugural match between deaf England and deaf New Zealand. I was able to clap in sign language and you could see the joy it brought to the players when they saw hearing people applauding in sign language.  Sadly, I had to step down from the school role when I started working for my rugby club’s project to open up a derelict sports ground to the local community but I found new ways to keep supporting CAFOD.

Become an Education Volunteer with CAFOD 

Make my voice count for a better world

Andy campaigning for Fairtrade with CAFOD

Andy campaigning for Fairtrade with CAFOD

The Campaign Volunteer Coordinator (CVC) is a new role.  CVCs are there to improve communication with, and provide support to, those who campaign on behalf of CAFOD.  The role is still defining its self and varies from diocese to diocese as is needed.  My involvement in the role led me to start campaigning – how can I support campaigners if I have never campaigned?  As well as supporting CAFOD’s major campaigns we help respond to urgent events.  At our recent general elections, I asked our volunteers to contact as many of their candidates as they could to ask them to support the aid budget, make it a vote winner, counter the negative stories in the press.  During lockdown, CVCs have been asking volunteers who have an online parish newsletter to ask their parishes to put an item in it about the Cancel the Debt Petition and support the CAFOD (and DEC) Coronavirus emergency appeal.  CVCs also work with the clergy; I have attended priests’ Deanery meetings to thank them for their support and give feedback on our campaigns. At the last meeting when socializing afterwards I had a long chat with Bishop Lynch about Blackheath Rugby (we are both Blackheath supporters).  His duties keep him from attending many matches, so I was able to update him on the latest developments at the club.

Discover how easy it is to campaign with CAFOD 

I have also represented CAFOD at the Catholic Head Teachers Conference where I was able to remind the Head teachers of the resources that CAFOD has that can support schools in delivering their curriculum.  I have spoken at Justice and Peace conferences as much of our work can cross over and we can learn much from each other.

I have only one question now, where will my journey with CAFOD take me next?

Have you been inspired by Andy’s experience? Check out the volunteering section of our website to read more stories from our volunteers and to find out how you can get involved with CAFOD.