Inspirational talk from Maria Gonzalez at the South East Regional Harvest Appeal Planning Meeting

CAFOD Arundel & Brighton Blog

On Saturday 19 October, over seventy CAFOD parish volunteers and supporters from the dioceses of Westminster, Portsmouth, East Anglia, Brentwood, Southwark and Arundel and Brighton came together for a Zoom ‘Harvest Appeal’ planning meeting.

The meeting began with a prayer and reflection after which, Maria Gonzalez, CAFOD’s Head of International Development, and guest speaker, pondered on Pope Francis’ words at his General Audience on 19 August when he said; ‘our response to the pandemic must be twofold:, finding a cure for this small terrible virus, but also curing a larger virus, that of social injustice, inequality of opportunity, marginalisation and lack of protection for the weakest.’ She contined that we must combat indiffierence, this throwaway culture, and be converted from individualism to enable our brothers and sisters to survive, heal and rebuild their lives…

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James’s Cycle Challenge for CAFOD’s Coronavirus Appeal

James Buchanan, CAFOD Westminster volunteer, writes:

During the week of Monday 10 August, the second week of my summer break, I have decided to cycle 100 miles to raise funds for CAFOD’s coronavirus appeal.

I will be cycling around my local area in Oxfordshire, trying to get the miles in before the hottest of the weather each day and avoid the predicted thunderstorms this week!

James Buchanan Cycle Challenge

I am a keen cyclist, though usually cycle between 6-10 miles on my regular bike rides, so it will certainly be a challenge to cycle double the distance on consecutive days for a week!

I have worked for CAFOD Westminster and in CAFOD’s Campaigns team in the past, and witnessed first hand the amazing work they do with partner organisations in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

I have also seen the dedication of CAFOD volunteers, especially during my time working in CAFOD’s Westminster office, without whom CAFOD’s work would not be possible.

Around the world, coronavirus is making it harder for families to feed their children, for hardworking farmers to earn a living, and for children to get the education they deserve.

CAFOD is working to help communities not only to survive the effects of coronavirus, but to rebuild their lives in the long term – with love, dignity and hope.

Through this challenge, I hope to play a small part in responding to CAFOD’s invitation to be signs of hope for our world this summer.

If you would like to sponsor my cycle challenge, you can do so here. Many thanks for all you do to support the work of CAFOD.

Meet our new Parish Volunteer Co-Ordinator!

Hi there! I am Alicia Ramos from the Hillingdon deanery. I am an Environmental Specialist. I am also a CAFOD Parish Volunteer.

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My first experience with CAFOD was as a Climate Champion. This year-long programme helped me gain new skills, meet like-minded people interested in tackling climate change, and contribute to creating a better world. I volunteer with CAFOD because it is actively doing something to help the world’s most vulnerable people. I grew up in Uganda where a lot of people live in poverty. I’ve seen the impact CAFOD has had on one of its water-focused projects there it’s evident that CAFOD’s approach to development combines a great understanding of the core issue and a dedicated plan of action to realise change and transparency. It gives the most vulnerable a voice. In addition, as a Catholic, it gives me great pride to be part of an organisation that does such great work while retaining the tenets of the faith. 

Parish Volunteer Co-Ordinator Alicia

During the Climate Champions programme, I was introduced to Tony Sheen who asked if I wanted to come on board as a Parish Volunteer Coordinator (PVC). Eager to continue engaging with CAFOD and contribute to its meaningful work, my answer was an instant ‘yes!’

My role as a PVC involves engaging with the CAFOD Parish volunteers in Hillingdon deanery and supporting their work. I took on this role hoping to meet other volunteers and better understand what different parishes are doing to support CAFOD’s work. Unfortunately, due to the lockdown, my interactions with volunteers were limited to emails and phone calls. I’m looking forward to meeting all these people who devote their time to such a worthy cause in person someday. During the pandemic, we’ve been actively working to raise awareness about CAFOD’s Emergency Coronavirus appeal to help those in disadvantaged areas. I get a great sense of comfort knowing that we’ve helped our brothers and sisters elsewhere due to these efforts. I hope we can continue to do much more.

Taking on this role was easy because I had a lot of support from Tony and the CAFOD team. As someone who is fairly new to this, I am also really grateful to have learnt a lot from my fellow PVCs in other parishes.

Overall, being a PVC has been a massive learning experience for me because I’ve had the chance to learn so much from so many brilliant people while also contributing to advancing CAFOD’s work at the parish level. I would encourage others who have the capacity to consider doing this too. If you are ever looking for ways to contribute more positively to society, being a PVC is a good place to start.

If you would like to know more about volunteering contact Tony Sheen email westminster@cafod.org.uk