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
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.
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.
CAFOD volunteer Andy Wansbury, reflects on his role as a campaigns volunteer coordinator and how it is an expression of his faith and shares how he will get involved in the next few weeks and is inviting you to come along.
As a result of the current pandemic it has been much harder to practice our Catholic faith. As the crisis grew the church removed the obligation to attend Sunday mass, the celebration of the sacraments had to be suspended, churches were closed to the public, priests could only say mass in church in private. Visits to the sick and housebound could no longer happen. All these communal acts had to cease to help stop the coronavirus pandemic.
Living my faith without the sacraments
How then were we to live out our faith without access to mass and the sacraments? For me being a practicing Catholic has always been more than just going to church on Sunday. A line from one sermon that has always stayed with me is “It not going to church that makes you a Christian it is what you do when you leave church that makes you a Christian”. Attending mass is a vitally important part of Catholic life, it is where we can get educated about our faith, the inspiration, and the graces we need to live out our God given mission as Catholics. The roles that we fulfill when we leave church are many and varied some apply directly to supporting parish life such as being a server, a choir member or a catechist, some roles take us into the wider world as community leaders, emergency service and key workers, or campaigners for justice. In recent years the role I have found is supporting those people living in the less well-developed parts of the world by volunteering for the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development or CAFOD or as it is better known.
Join us to pray and share on Pope Francis’ “Gaudete et Exsultate” (Rejoice and Be Glad) on November 24th, from 10am to 4pm, . The retreat will be hosted at Romero House, 55 Westminster bridge road, London, SE1 7JB. Please bring a shared vegetarian lunch.
On Saturday November 24th, we’ll be reflecting on how to be holy in today’s modern worlds, as well as looking at some of the idea’s in the Pope’s new document “Gaudete et Exsultate” or “Rejoice and be Glad.” He encourages us to open our eyes, ears and hearts to the words of the gospel and expand our limited horizons.
Join CAFOD and others at our retreat to explore the journey of faith
In this document, Pope Francis celebrates the simplicity of life’s daily activities and how they can be a window to our holiness and a way for us to channel the values of the Beatitudes. He celebrates the uniqueness and individuality of us all and reminds us that we all have agency and power to shift things that happen in our world. But, the way we carry out our daily activities can also expose to us how we separate ourselves from holiness, such as how our addiction to consumption could make spending time with God a ‘painful exercise’.
Julie from Rochester who has attended many CAFOD events says, “I cannot recommend CAFOD events highly enough. Over the years I’ve benefited greatly by participating in justice and peace assembly meetings and workshops and retreats on various themes. They always prove to be inspiring occasions and I feel we need to prioritise such events more in our busy itineraries. Why? Because they provide us with knowledge, social catholic teaching and prayer, providing guidance and examples of how we might help build the Kingdom of God together through personal lifestyle changes, and participation within our parish and wider communities.”