Finding a family at CAFOD

CAFOD volunteer Miriam McEneaney from St. Lawrence’s Parish, Feltham; shares her experience of volunteering and being inspired by and building relationships with her fellow volunteers.

Getting hooked on volunteering

Miriam grew in her volunteering role from writing to her MP to volunteer coordinator

I have been volunteering with CAFOD for a few years now.  It was when my children had left school and I was no longer involved in school or scout committees. I wanted to get involved in something where I could put my faith into action.  I went to an Understanding CAFOD day and I was hooked.  The first thing that struck me about volunteering for CAFOD was how flexible it was.  It was something I could fit around my normal working week.

I started out by being an MPC (MP Correspondent).  This involved writing to my MP about three times a year requesting their support on various petitions.  I then volunteered to be a roaming speaker.  I would speak at various Churches during the Lent and Harvest appeals where they do not have a CAFOD presence.

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Finding a family at CAFOD

CAFOD family on a ZOOM call

The next step in my CAFOD journey was when I became a Campaign Volunteer Co-ordinator for parts of the Westminster and West Southwark Diocese.  The role is very varied and you get as much out of it as you put into it.  It involves liaising with all the wonderful Campaign Volunteers, keeping them up to date with what’s happening and encouraging them to spread the word in their parishes.  Obviously, emails are an important part in communication but a few times a year, I really like to phone around.  This was particularly important during lockdown.  So many people were really pleased to get the call – especially if they were living alone.  It really struck me that CAFOD is a family and we should all be looking out for each other.  I know I always felt motivated after each call and I hope the Campaign Volunteer did too.  When I first started to phone the Campaign Volunteers, it was a bit daunting.  Now, it is like catching up with friends.  There is also a sense of freedom because I am asking for time and not money.  If ever I have a question, there is always support from Tony and Marine, my two Community Participation Co-ordinators.

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A huge story about a tiny fish in Tooting

Jed Murphy, a CAFOD volunteer in the Southwark Diocese spent this weekend at Our Lady of the Assumption in Tooting, South London as part of the Lent Fast Day appeal.

I have lived in this part of South London for most of my life – but had never known that this lovely, vibrant and very welcoming Parish existed on the borders of Tooting, Streatham & Mitcham.

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The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Tooting (Phot0: CAFOD Southwark)

This year’s Lent Fast Day talk focussed on an amazing CAFOD project that provides families in the poorest parts of Zambia with tiny  tilapia fish together with the tools & training to build ponds in order to farm them.

Through this initiative, families are able to stand on their own two feet, selling their fish at the market and sharing what they have with the most vulnerable in their community.

It is a truly inspiring story.

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A CAFOD Lent Fast Day poster, showing the incredible story of Florence & the talapia fish

As approach Fast Day this Friday (10th March), we are encouraged to eat a simple lunch or supper and give the money we save to support other families.  In doing so we demonstrate our faith and tangibly help change the lives of others.

A donation of just £4 will buy 100 of those tiny talapia fish.  £20 will provide the materials to build a pond.  Please give what you can today.

The appeal went down very well in the Parish, and we also had requests from two parishioners who wanted to get involved as CAFOD Volunteers.  It’s a really great way for us to put our faith into action.  If you’d like to help & support CAFOD’s work in the community more information can be found here.

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The sanctuary at Our Lady of the Assumption (Photo: CAFOD Southwark)

A huge thank you to Fr Patrick and  all the parishioners who made so welcome. 

How the young show their love for our Common Good

Meg, a CAFOD Southwark Media Volunteer, recently enjoyed two wonderful examples in the Diocese of Southwark how the young showed their love for our Common Good as they heard about Climate Change and CAFOD’s Share a Green Heart Campaign.

Comments from Meg:

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One of the young participants in Eileen’s liturgy, proudly presenting her heart art.

It’s always interesting to see how the young perceive our planet.

As part of CAFOD’s Share a green heart campaign last St. Valentine’s Day, children shared what the world meant to them.

The catechists, from Christ Church, held a liturgy for the children on Sunday, 19 February. During mass, about 40 children, ranging in age from three to five years, sang (complete with hand gestures) the song “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”

They were also read the creation story. When asked what they loved about the world, the children were quick with their answers: Butterflies! Sharks! Stars! Even the parents seemed equally excited to see so much youthful enthusiasm. It was the first time the catechists, led by Eileen, held a liturgical campaign for the children.

“It was really good,” recalls Eileen. “They were really engaged. The world seemed very real to them. I was glad I was able to use my CAFOD resources to explain about Laudato Si to them and to their parents.”

The children also received some stickers from their arts and crafts activity, which they were more than happy to take home with them.

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Children who came to Marine’s house

At a second memorable event, says Meg, CAFOD supporter Marine in London Bridge took a more personal approach.

She invited Borough mothers and their children into her home, where she’d set up arts and crafts, and then just chatted with them.

Marine asked the children what they liked about the environment?

 “I like to play football in the grass,” said one boy while one little girl described her appreciation by making a bird out of clay. The children then drew, took pictures and made felt green hearts.

At the end of their two-hour activity, they took home the fruits of their labour, along with the green heart stickers.

Marine said : “I was really happy to promote CAFOD and start a conversation with Borough mothers and their children.”

 “It’s always a delight when young individuals participate in these campaigns”, says Meg. “After all it’s the children who will benefit most from a better and greener world. “May we all work together to make sure the butterflies and birds and sharks stay alive for our Common Home”.

 

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