The LiveSimply award – St James’ parish in Petts Wood

Today we are checking-in with St James’ parish in Petts Wood, who have been working towards the LiveSimply award!

The award is a national prize for Catholic parishes putting their faith into action (livesimplyaward.org.uk) – to win the award, a parish must demonstrate nine ways of putting into action the three principles of LiveSimply: to live simply, to live sustainably, and to live in solidarity with the poor.

Here’s a quick run-down of how St James’ got involved…

How did they start?

After the parish LiveSimply group was formed in October 2011, an assessment was made of what the parish was already doing. Then, after several discussions  with as many parishioners and parish groups as possible in order to draw up an Action Plan for achieving the award, the plan was approved by CAFOD in August 2012 and the St James’ LiveSimply was launched on the weekend of 29/30th September 2012!

What do they pledge to do?

St James had to choose one substantial action for each of the aforementioned three principles. The actions they opted for were:

A) To create a wildlife garden and worship space

B) To switch church energy supply to a green supplier OR to buy crabon offsets to reduce church and Presbytery footprint by 10%

C) To adopt a CAFOD Connect2 project (Bangladesh was selected)

Alongside these substantial actions were a number of supporting actions – for example, to hold an indoor loaves and fishes picnic, and give money saved to charity (to live simply), to ensure planned refurbishment to the church hall is carried out sympathetically to the environment (to live sustainably) and to collect items for a local food bank and homeless centre (to live in solidarity with the poor). There are lots more of these actions, full details of which can be found here – and the results of which can be found  under the ‘Action’ tab on St James’ fantastic website!

Substantial action spotlight

As already mentioned, one of the parish’s substantial actions is to create a wildlife garden and worship space, a place that would be ‘a beneficial resource’ that ‘can be enjoyed and utilised by the whole parish throughout the year.’ Work for the garden is on-going – a lot of the clearing has already been done and flower beds are being dug out ready for planting in the spring.

Initial plans for the garden, including a quiet place for meditation and reflection, an area for socialising, and a wildlife area, all of which encompass the LiveSimply values

Initial plans for the garden, including a quiet place for meditation and reflection, an area for socialising, and a wildlife area, all of which encompass the LiveSimply values

Project leader Joe Falzon told The Pilgrim about why he got involved with the on-going project, and the impact which he has seen it have on the parish and the local community. Benefits he has seen the project bring include:

  • allowing parishioners to meet others they would not normally have the chance to
  • providing a sense of togetherness – which Joe highlights as key to success in a huge project
  • providing a ‘platform from which people feel involved and are able to make a difference to the community’
  • challenging the community, ‘to think deeply on lots of levels about what we do within our own society to have an impact worldwide’

Of the award, Joe said:

Taking part in the LiveSimply Award has taught me that we cannot afford to be passive and merely depend on others to care for our environment, we should all be taking an active part and constantly questioning and challenging concerns. I would encourage any parish looking to get involved in an initiative that truly brings together the church and local community to consider signing up to CAFOD’s LiveSimply Award.

Parish volunteers hard at work!

Parish volunteers hard at work!

More details on this project, and on the others, can be found on St James’ dedicated LiveSimply website.

I think my Parish could take part in the LiveSimply Award – where do I start?

If you’ve been inspired by the video above, and by St James’ parish story, find out how your parish can get involved by visiting the LiveSimply award website or let us know you’re interested by contacting Maria Elena Arana on 020 7326 5417. As Paul Draper, from St John Bosco in Reading (the first parish to win the award) suggests in the video, you might find that your parish is already doing things which will count towards LiveSimply – it’s just a case of recognising this and applying a focus!

Put your faith into action, strengthen the bonds of community, and nourish your spiritual life by entering your parish into the running for a LiveSimply award.’

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