Helping the “one in three” in Colliers Wood

Jed Murphy is a CAFOD volunteer in the Southwark Diocese. Jed went to speak at Mass for Lent Family Fast Day last weekend at St Joseph’s Church in Colliers Wood. Here, he writes about his message and experience. 

Being a volunteer speaker for CAFOD Fast Days often takes you to the farthest corners of the Southwark Diocese.   It’s always great to visit new parishes and meet new people.

But for this Lent Family Fast Day I spoke at St Joseph’ Church in Colliers Wood, Merton.  I have driven past St Joseph’s on the way to work at least 1,000 times.  But, until Sunday, I had never stepped inside this lovely Parish.   Fr Angelo leads a friendly, family-like congregation that made me feel so welcome.


The wonderful Parish Church of St Joseph’s, Colliers Wood – (photo credit: CAFOD)

The Lent appeal this year focuses on Mahinur’s story.  She is one of the 30% of people that CAFOD is forced to turn away because we simply don’t have enough money to go around.

Mahinur lives on the coast in Bangladesh, in an area that’s been badly hit by climate change.   Last year a severe drought killed all the fish – and this has made life really difficult for her and her family.   She does odd jobs for her neighbours in return for rice – but it’s not enough.  Some days the family just drink water for dinner.


This Lent’s Family Fast Day envelopes on display at St Josephs – featuring Mahinur  (photo credit: CAFOD)

So this year’s talk had a very clear message: consider having a simple meal for Family Fast Day and donate the money you save to CAFOD.

Fr Angelo really reinforced this point.  He highlighted the message from the weekend’s Gospel – of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness.  Without food for forty days Jesus is famished – but he resists the temptation laid out in front of him.  Can we resist our hunger pangs and cravings for one meal?  Can we eat simply instead and turn the money we save into a lifeline – an outstretched hand to a friend in need?


Fr Angelo also made the point that this is Family Fast Day.  An opportunity to share the experience with our family.  Doing this together in order to help other families less fortunate than our own.

Statue of Our Lady of Merton, using Reigate stone from the outer walls of Merton Abbey (photo credit: CAFOD)

Statue of Our Lady of Merton, using Reigate stone from the outer walls of Merton Abbey (photo credit: CAFOD)

At the end of one of the Masses it was fantastic to have a Parishioner ask how they could get involved with CAFOD as a volunteer.   Without the generous gift of time given by over 4,000 CAFOD volunteers across England and Wales, the Family Fast Days simply could not happen.   There are many ways that people can get involved – from organising or speaking at Mass, visiting schools helping on the computer or phone in the volunteer centre.   If you are interested get in touch here.

So thanks to Fr Angelo all the parishioners who made me feel so welcome this weekend.

Happy Lent.

If you want to discover more about CAFOD Family fast Day please check on CAFOD website.


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