The Challenge of Laudato Si’ and the Amazon Rainforest: Father Peter Delivers Inspirational Talk

By Nicole Crosbourne – Volunteer

Last week, we were very fortunate to host two talks by Father Peter, an Irish-Columbian father who had spent many years working in Peru. He delivered an inspirational message about the challenges of Laudato Si’, what it really means to be a Catholic, and the question of poverty. Several people from the parish of St. Edmunds of Canterbury, Beckenham attended on Thursday, followed by a large gathering of people at Comboni Missionary Sisters, Chiswick on Friday.

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Katherine, Sister Graca, Father Peter, Paul Whittle and New CAFOD Volunteer Area Coordinator Nigel Bishop

After the talk, everyone was invited to participate in a card-signing later that evening to show their support for CAFOD and this year’s Harvest Fast Day Appeal in El Salvador.

Father Peter, who had spent many years working as a missionary in Lima, Peru became the theological advisor in Latin America. His close collaborations with Gustavo Gutierrez enabled him to support developing programmes, both for social and pastoral action with the help of Peruvian bishops.

The key message of Father Peter’s talk encompassed the challenges of Laudato Si’, and what it really meant to be a Catholic both for our church, and for our world. Using the words of Pope Francis which echoed St. Peter and St. Paul, Father Peter spoke about the question of poverty, and how this burning issue forms the foundations of CAFOD, “I want a church by the poor, for the poor”.

Talk by Father Peter

Father Peter Hughes Delivering His Talk

He highlighted the shocking statistic from February by Oxfam International speaking about the distance between the rich and the poor, and the inequalities in today’s society. “Today 50% of the world’s wealth is in the hands of 8 people.”  He also emphasised how people in our world are being reduced to “nobodies” or a “surplus” as a result of material poverty, and how this is directly against the Christian message. “God is a God of love […] God is life.”

As Christians, we all have the responsibility to understand poverty. As Father Peter mentioned, we should remember both relative and absolute poverty, and reach out to those in need both within and outside of our local communities, believers or non-believers. Father Peter also highlighted our job as Christians to understand the relationship between poverty and our faith, with reference to this year’s Harvest Fast Day Appeal and the overarching message from Laudato Si’ 139. Fighting climate change is our responsibility as stewards for our planet, “If we make of mess of the world, we can fix it”.

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Father Peter and CAFOD Volunteer Hugh Caldin

 

Many people were inspired by Father Peter’s message, including Brendan Kilcullen, CAFOD Supporter and monthly donator, and Sister Helen who had moved to the Parish in November, working with Housing Justice for Asylum Seekers. ”I came to hear about the work of CAFOD. I was interested in the stations of the cross CAFOD used to illustrate asylum seekers. I wanted to use these within my own parish and see how CAFOD is helping people to grow in faith” (Sister Helen).

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Power To Be Action Cards

Following some questions, Libby Abbott, CAFOD Campaigns Team, spoke on behalf of CAFOD about our latest ‘Power to Be’ campaign and the importance of renewable energy. Everyone was encouraged to sign cards in order to raise awareness the campaign and the effects of climate change.

Overall, we are extremely grateful for all the work and continued support Father Peter has given to CAFOD over the last 30 years. We wish him all the best in his work within the church and as the Board of REPAM, the church network for Pan-Amazon.

To engage in our Power To Be campaign, you can sign our petition online. Also, you can order your own action cards at our shop to be signed within your parish, or organise a Power To Be Liturgy to continue to raise awareness, pray and spread the message.

 

 

It all started with, “Why not?”

Meg, a CAFOD Media Volunteer, shares the story of the newest CAFOD coordinator, Andy Wansbury. Here she tells us how Andy began his journey as a volunteer.

“I used to be a forensic photographer,” Andy recalls. He had been in the Forensic

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A group photo from Lent Fast Day 2016–when it all started for Andy

Science Service for 12 years until 2011. Since then he had been at home, caring for his daughter. And then CAFOD reached out to him. “Eileen Hayes from CAFOD came to speak at the Lent Fast Day 2016 in my parish and asked for volunteers. I thought it was a call for me as I had always been interested in CAFOD work,” he says. He had always wanted to be a parish speaker, so when they finally asked him to be a part of the family, he just thought, “Why not?”


Why volunteer?

Andy began his CAFOD journey by giving talks in school. “Last September, there was a private school in Lewisham who needed a volunteer. I underwent training in the summer,” Andy explains. The training would occur twice a year, for a full day. “And soon I was giving talks for about 20 minutes in schools and parishes, about what CAFOD does and what we are all about.” There are also various volunteering opportunities for other aspiring volunteers who would like to do something else.

Andy had recently become the new volunteer campaign Co-ordinator for the deaneries of Bexley, Greenwich, Gravesend, Bromley and Lewisham. I thought, “My, what huge responsibility this is!” it all seemed so overwhelming. But he patiently explained that his role is mostly to act as a support person. Whenever there is a campaign, he is there to extend a hand if needed, but not necessarily having to be directly involved. “I am still getting the grips of it, ” he admits.  His latest assignment is trying to help with the committee appeal for East Africa. He is also hoping to recruit motivated volunteers to promote CAFOD campaigns in parishes.

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Andy sporting his signature look

Because of his new role, Andy is every where CAFOD takes him. He would show up in his Harley-Davidson, wearing black leather boots, navy trousers, and of course, a CAFOD shirt. He believes in making a first impression, and quite an impression at that. “It makes people remember you. And when they remember you they remember what you say, and the message you’d like to imprint on them.”

 

Discover the latest campaigns here

Many thanks, Andy, for all your fantastic work so far!

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Why East Africa needs you : a lunch-talk with Dc Tesfa Mahari.

Thank you to Streatham and Clapham United Nations Association who organised a simple lunch on Saturday, 29th April 1.00pm to find out why East Africa needs your help.

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A woman from South Sudan collecting wild leaves to eat. Photo by David Mutua

The event was held at the English Martyrs Church lower hall (2 Mitcham Lane, Streatham, SW16 6NN) to understand why East Africa needs us . Guests were invited to share a simple bread and cheese lunch, with a lecture that talks about the East African Famine.

The talk’s principal lecturer was Dr. Tesfa Mehari, from the International Business and Economics Department of the University of Greenwich. She discussed the causes, immediate needs and longer term solutions for the East African crisis.

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Food distributions in South Sudan; Photos taken by David Mutua

This event aimed to raise funds and awareness for these communities suffering severely of hunger caused by long periods of drought. The proceeds from this event will be split between UNICEF and CAFOD. More information available here.

Our thanks goes out to Sarah and her United Nations Association group who organised this.