Hope for a better World

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.  

Liam Finn explored Pope Francis’s new encyclical Fratelli Tutti

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.

Catch up on recorded session from the day

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…

Barbara Ring from Hartley enjoying the gift of Creation in Lyme Park

Join Barbara in writing a message to someone brave

“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 …..”

Get ideas for how you can live more simply and care for the environment

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 is a CAFOD school Volunteer

Join Gillie is prioritising some time for reflection by using our online advent calendar

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!!!”

“By clicking on a link we can connect with people around the world in real time. ”

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.”

Find more opportunities to connect with others through online events

Lets all plant some seeds of hope

Let’s spread Hope with a Christmas message

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!

Jesus and ‘Foreigners’

CAFOD volunteer from St Joseph’s Parish in Greenwich, Mick Shepherd shares his thoughts on Jesus’ relationship with foreigners, and how we can reflect on this as a Christian.

 I never noticed it until recently (it beats me why not) and that is the significance of the tenth leper (Luke 17) who returned to thank Jesus for curing him. And yet I’d heard this passage so many times before – the only one out of the ten who turned and ran back to thank Jesus was a Samaritan!

As you will know, the Jews did not associate with Samaritans, who were considered ‘foreigners’ and below them and even ‘impure’. Jesus however rebuts Jewish preconceptions by remarking: ‘the other nine, where are they? It seems that no-one has come back to give praise to God except this foreigner’.  Time and time again Jesus confounds Jewish expectations with regard to their perception of ‘foreigners’.

Water pump lent 2016A good example is the woman at the well. Not only should Jesus, a single Jewish male, not be seen alone with a woman frowned upon by others (see Jesus’ comments about her many consorts, none of whom was her husband) but she was a Samaritan.

A ‘foreigner’.

Yet Jesus even offers to give her the ‘water of life’, that is, offer her life eternal! This is truly astonishing – to offer eternal life to someone who is non-Jewish, a foreign woman and one with a questionable reputation.

The famous Good Samaritan parable (Luke 10) is a most powerful story invented by Jesus to emphasise that, contrary to expectations, it is the ‘foreigner,’ the Samaritan, who stops to help the injured man, who helps him and takes him to an inn.

It’s this ‘foreigner’ who ‘goes the extra mile’, offering on his return to pay for any additional expenses incurred. Note that the powerful and influential officials who ‘pass by on the other side’ are respected Jewish ‘establishment figures’, a priest and a Levite.

hartley-2016-refugee_pilgrimageThey have no time. They don’t want to have anything to do with the injured man, even though he is a fellow Jew. (Again, note it’s the Samaritan who stops to help a person who is even not of his own race!). Surely this is the strongest of anti-racist messages that Jesus is giving our brothers and sisters across the world?

It seems clear that we, as Christians, need to take Jesus’ teaching extremely seriously, take it literally and at face value: treat others as we would wish to be treated ourselves – and that means ALL others.

In the present unpleasant climate of mistrust of ‘foreigners’, immigrants and refugees we need to take Jesus’ teaching seriously to heart. Remember, all people are made in God’s image, all are loved by God – and that ‘in my Father’s house are many mansions’.

The Year of Mercy and its celebration gave us the hope to discover God’s mercy in our own lives so we can share this gift with our neighbours and the earth.

This is why, as a CAFOD supporter, I believe that its motto, ‘Just One World’, is absolutely right! Which brings me back to the significance of the story of the Good Samaritan.

He could not only see good in others but whether they were a ‘foreigner’ or not he was prepared to give succour, sustenance and support to those whose needs were greatest whatever their religion, culture or creed. 

Forced out by war, poverty and persecution, millions of people live uncertain lives as migrants and refugees. But each of us, moved by faith, can respond in welcome, respect and love. You can support CAFOD campaign by writing messages of hope to refugees, using our refugee solidarity liturgy with your school, parish or group, and finding out more about a Catholic response to the refugee crisis.

Come to Understanding CAFOD workshop on 4 February in Amigo Hall SE1 to find out more about CAFOD.