In this first week of Advent we often reflect on the theme of hope as we look ahead with joyful expectation to the celebration of Christ’s birth. It is has been hard at times over the past year to feel hope and joy, but on 14th November 2020, CAFOD organised an online conference which invited participants to put their faith into action and focused on How to Build a Better World after the Pandemic. It was an event centered on Hope.
The day flowed from insights by the practical theologian Sam Ewell to reports from climate campaigners from around the world; Liam Finn explained and explored Pope Francis’s new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti; CAFOD’s Director of Advocacy Neil Thorns told us about the crucial global talks the UK is hosting next year, and ways in which CAFOD volunteers can influence the outcomes.
Hope inspires action
Throughout the day were many opportunities to share with others and gain new ideas and fresh motivation to be a force for change in the world
Barbara Ring, CAFOD campaigner and Speaker from Hartley said: “I was inspired by the input at the meeting – so much so that I immediately contacted our newly formed Parish Council and Fr Patrick with the information about Christmas Cards for the Defenders – Fr Patrick sent a very enthusiastic response and the information is going out with the newsletter asap…
“I’ve also suggested we go back to Living More Simply. There were so many great ideas, especially from Sam – I’m hoping we can team up with our school and work on some of the ecological stuff building on what the pupils are already doing. Could we turn the entire presbytery garden into a wildlife haven or a vegetable patch? My brain is working overtime I’m afraid …..”
Gillie Drinkall, Schools and Campaigns Volunteer in London, took part with her family and they reflected together:
“One thing that did resonate with me and my family was said by the theologian. Something along the lines that “experiences don’t lead to transformation but reflections on experiences do”. It’s really worth trying to find the time to work out what is important, what we can learn. Even to the teenagers it seemed apparent that one can be happier going for a walk in the park with one likeminded friend than going to all the parties ever. [My] oldest child even finally admitted that being outside really did improve her mood!”
Maggie Melville a School Volunteer based in Kent was inspired by a project with prisoners: “I liked the idea of a garden using recycled waste, tended by people who are also being recycled after a spell in prison. I have great difficulty with certain aspects of the notion of prison as it punishes more than the prisoner and affects not only their life chances but those of their dependents. The promise of growth, productivity, community, value – and not just for the vegetables – really appeals.”
Hope through connection
One of the most uplifting, exciting, and moving aspects of the day was being able to connect with so many different people of different ages and backgrounds in so many places across the UK and world.
Maggie continued: “Most of all I like the fact that by clicking a link we can connect in real time around the world and the exchange of ideas is faster than the speed of light. Amazing!!!”
Julie Valentine, Parish volunteer Coordinator, from Richmond shared: “How heartening to see such a large number of attendees – at one stage I think there were almost 240 which was a great turn-out.”
Dominic Newman, from Mitcham, said : “I also found the energy, the ‘fizz’ of the meeting very stirring. Given the state of the world, and our country, and (in my case) my local area, despondence often seems irresistible, so the other Saturday I was surprised (though I shouldn’t have been!) to find such enthusiasm, such a joyful determination to help our neighbours, wherever they live.”
Rahel Leul,17 year old, Events Volunteer shared how she appreciated learning from the other participants: “What I enjoyed from the meeting was being able to meet new people and interact with different kinds of people from all around the world. I also liked coming together and educating one another, learning from others and their views.”
Lets all plant some seeds of hope
Have you heard about our Messages to the Brave campaign? On our website you can write a Christmas message of encouragement to some of the Human Rights defenders who we work with. Such an easy way to spread the hope and faith!