From the U.S. to London: my experience as a CAFOD intern

Sidney Magdaong, a CAFOD intern, is a university student from the United States. He has been working for CAFOD for nearly a semester, after which he will return to the US. He describes his experience working for CAFOD.

As a university student from the United States, I made the decision to undertake an internship in London to work as a Parish Events Coordinator for CAFOD. I was ecstatic after accepting the job because I figured it would provide me with a great opportunity to connect with local parishes while in London. In fact, CAFOD gave me just that, and so much more.


Sidney Magdaong discovering some of London’s featured landmarks

Though I was still adjusting to the urban London environment, CAFOD had me start right away after I arrived. I was a little nervous on my first day (especially since it was my first time using public transport by myself), but the staff and administration were hospitable beyond my expectations. In fact, they helped smooth the transition of adapting to London life.


One of the greatest things I gained from working in CAFOD is the expansion of my communication skills and the exposure to several new tasks. I began working as a social media intern, travelling between the headquarters in Shortlands and the offices in Romero House. I learned how to write my first blog as well as how to use Twitter to promote CAFOD events. It took a day or two to get used to, but soon I became proficient in blog-writing and I was able to send out a weekly blog in addition to several Tweets per week. After that, I gained enough experience to handle CAFOD’s monthly e-bulletin.

The majority of my writing and office work centred around Harvest Day, one of CAFOD’s biggest fundraisers. I wrote most of my blogs and Tweets about Fast Day, and I aided in coordinating Mass speakers in different parishes. Sometimes my promotion of Fast Day was in the form of ringing parish priests by asking. After Fast Day, my work shifted to data management involving money donations received from each parish.

Overall, I cannot express how honoured I am to have been a part of CAFOD. In addition to strengthening my communication and networking abilities, I learned so much about global crises and how CAFOD and its partners are responding to these emergencies. In turn, I learned how Catholic Social Teaching can play a tremendous, applicable role in the world and in the local community. As a Christian, I can say that CAFOD has well-informed me of my duties to make a difference, and CAFOD has been an outlet that has allowed me to accomplish just that. Though I will be leaving after this semester, I hope that my role can be passed on to someone who shares the passions that I have encountered here at CAFOD.

That being said, we are looking for 2 office volunteers to undertake this special role. We would like one permanent volunteer who could come to the office once a week  and another short term volunteer who can help out one or two times a week during January and February to focus on the Lent Fast Day Campaign, which will involve working with the data base, making phone calls, and aiding in social media promotion. If you are interested, please contact Southwark Volunteer Centre or call us on 020 8466 9901.


Memorial mass – remembering our dearly departed loved ones and supporters

Remembering our dearly departed loved ones and supporters is a wonderful and most precious gift, therefore in November there is a double blessing of celebrating All Saints and All Souls Day. You are warmly invited to attend the Southwark Diocese memorial mass on November 19 at 11:30 in St William of York in Forest Hill.

Why November?
November is an important month for the Church and the Catholic community.  The month begins with All Saints Day (when we remember the saints in heaven) and All Souls Day (when we remember all the faithful departed). We are given the opportunity to pray for those who are no longer with us. Throughout November we are once again holding our annual Memorial Masses across the country to honour all our friends who have died.

What are the Memorial Masses and why do we have them?

SWOY - Chuch in Brockley

Memorial Mass at St William of York, Brockley

Many of us can find it hard to talk about bereavement without worrying that we’ll make people feel uncomfortable. The Masses offer an opportunity for CAFOD supporters, parishioners, volunteers and members of the wider public to get together and celebrate the lives of those we’ve loved and lost. CAFOD is immensely blessed by the generosity and dedication of our supporters. Sadly, many of our supporters over the years have now passed away and our Memorial Masses also allow us to pay a special tribute to these supporters in order to mark our appreciation for their years of kindness. The Masses take place in most dioceses, and last year we had our main Mass in Blexlyheath, so this year you are all invited to the Memorial Mass for Southwark Diocese on Sunday 19 November at 11:30 in Lewisham. 

Books of Remembrance


Remembering our departed loved ones and supporters

As active members of the Catholic community, this month is the natural time in the year for us to remember our loved ones and give thanks for the faithful service of our supporters, therefore many churches have a Book of Remembrance to which parishioners can add the names of their loved ones to be prayed for during the month. The names of deceased supporters are also collected each year in our Books of Remembrance which  includes all supporters who in the last year have left a gift to CAFOD in their will, as well as all those remembered by a Candlelight Fund as a donation in their memory and all those dear to your hearts. We also add the names of  our loved ones. The Rememberance books are updated each year at CAFOD’s head office and there is a section in which you can add extra names.

Candlelight Fund

Kathy who has open a candle light fund in memory of her son Robbie

Building a lasting memorial to a loved one is a beautiful way to raise funds for a worthy cause. This fund can be  a personal act of rememberance or you can invite others to join in. A Candlelight fund has no targets, deadlines or minimum amounts, therefore it is convienent way for friends and family to donate comfortably as and when it suits them. For example, Kathleen Szczegolski from London, has supported Catholic charity, CAFOD for many years and decided after retiring to begin volunteering in CAFOD’s Southwark Office.  A couple of years after her son Robbie died,  Kathleen decided to set up a Candlelight Fund in Robbie’s memory. Kathleen says that, “Robbie’s candlelight fund has raised over £5,800 now and Robbie would be very happy to know that he is helping people around the world”.

The Masses are organised by our amazing volunteers. The Memorial Mass for Southwark Diocese will be on Sunday 19 November at 11:30am at St William of York church, 4 Brockley Park, Forest Hill SE23 1PS. Or see our website for a full list of all venues across England and Wales here. If you have any questions or would like to include a name in our Books of Remembrance or to set up a Candlelight Fund, please get in touch with Roisin at or call 020 7095 5348. Alternatively, you are welcome to add a loved one’s name by sending us an email at  before Thursday 16 November.

Organising Your Own Soup Lunch for Harvest Fast Day

6 October 2017 marks this year’s Harvest Fast Day, which serves to generate funds to support our partners in El Salvador to fight injustices there. Sidney Magdaong, a CAFOD intern, describes how you can get involved by making your own soup lunch.

With Harvest Day approach quickly, many of our volunteers are hard at work as ever to make this Fast Day a successful one. A successful Fast Day derives from successful fundraising, and CAFOD provides several fundraising resources to kick-start the process. One of the best ways you can get involved in the effort is by organising your own soup lunch.

Discover more ways you can volunteer for this year’s Fast Day

soup lunch blog

CAFOD staff and volunteers enjoying their own soup lunch

How do I get started? Organising a soup lunch always starts with a plan: first, you will need a team who can help. you can ask your friends and family to help buy ingredients and cook a variety of soups (make sure that the cooks abide by food safety guidelines, and ensure that all soups are labelled clearly for those with allergies!). To save on costs, ask your local supermarket or bakery if they would be willing to donate any supplies that can help out. Working alongside your community goes a long way, and it brings people together in the process.

Check out our how-to guide, which summarizes how you can get started

Second, the venue must be decided.  Soup lunches can be done at your own home, as long as there is enough room for everyone to fit! If you decide to host the soup lunch at your school or your parish, make sure you ask for permission beforehand, and if they can provide you with the necessary catering services.

After that, you’re almost set! The only thing left to do is to spread the word about your event. CAFOD has advertising resources that can help make your soup lunch a successful one. Put up posters around your community, invite your friends and family, etc.; anything it takes to get people involved. Donations from your soup lunch can then be sent to CAFOD, which will tremendously fuel our efforts to support our partners in El Salvador.

Learn more about the message that CAFOD is sending to farmers in El Salvador

Thus, the most important thing to keep in mind is the mission that you are serving.

04 Tuesday Endimel y Marti-14

Martir, an El Salvadorian farmer and partner to CAFOD, holding his crop

Sharing a soup lunch with your community resembles the community that CAFOD is striving to provide for the many El Salvadorian farmers who are struggling to yield fruitful harvests. Through the giving of yourself and of your community, you are planting new, fresh seeds for farmers in El Salvador, thus reaping crops that will provide a better life and stronger hope for them.