Annual Fairtrade Celebration in Enfield Parish.

The George Family Free trade Stall

In the run up to Advent the Annual Fairtrade Fair was held in the Parish Centre next to the church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St George, Enfield. The Mass readings had called us to be prepared for the sun being darkened and the stars falling down, but also for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when all tears will be wiped away and those who seek justice and encourage others to do so will shine as starsfor all eternity

In Enfield there was no lack of shining stars with the Little Sisters of Jesus selling plants for CAFOD’s emergency programme in the Yemen; with young people from the parish Confirmation group gaining ideas about ways in which they might put to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit they will receive at Pentecost; and with Beena and her family raising funds for CAFOD with their most tempting cakes and pastries, made with Fairtrade ingredients.

Our local Tradecraft volunteer sold tea and coffee, cereals, and a range of other goods which had been produced without exploitation of working people or the environment in developing countries. CAFOD and Pax Christi offered Christmas cards and goods that will find their way into Christmas stockings and another stall gave parishioners the opportunity of helping poorPalestinian families producing olive oil and knitted goods. TheParish Justice and Peace Group had organised the morning and set a quiz from which it was amazing to learn that 40,000 varieties of rice were grown round the world.

CAFOD World Gifts Don’t have to be expensive.

At this time, when the preoccupation of Brexit has caused much national navel gazing, Christmas again provides all of us with the opportunity to look beyond our immediate concerns. We can support those in poorer nations by ensuring that our Christmas shopping, as much as possible, includes fairtrade products. Remember, CAFOD World Gifts can be bought as cheaply as £4.00 and, as well as genuinely helping some of the most deprived people in the world, allows the giver to present you with a virtual goat or flock of chickens!

Nearly half the parishes in the Westminster Diocese are CAFOD Fair Trade parishes which means that they provide fairly traded coffee, tea andbiscuits at parish meetings and once a year hold events like Enfield’s Fair. If three more parishes sign up to commit themselves to meeting these simple conditions Westminster will be the first Fair Trade diocese in the country. Further details are on the CAFOD web page here. You can also download and application form here.

Report from CAFOD Volunteer Michael Walsh.

Hear the Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor !

Nearly sixty volunteers attended last Saturday’s retreat at the Oakwood regional office, to hear about CAFOD’s response to climate change and think about how ordinary people can help to prevent catastrophe. The retreat,“Countering Consumerism” was led and presented by Samantha Aidoo. Participants were asked to consider Pope Francis’ recent teachings in his letter “Gaudete et Exsultate” (Rejoice and be Glad) and his previous encyclical “Laudato Si” (Praise Be). These texts were brought together using the Beatitudes, on which “Gaudete et Exsultate” is based, as a common vehicle to allow us all to think about the problem of Climate Change and what could be done by us, as individuals, to help tackle this most pressing of problems facing our world.

use of illustrations to help guided meditation

llustrations were used to help focus guided meditation

Not an easy task. Not an easy subject. And the retreat covered a lot of ground. For this participant though, the retreat was successful in illustrating how the majority of people attending worried that their contribution would never be enough to make a difference, but the Pope’s message of hope called us to action by trying to live a simple and holy life in those areas where we do have influence. “Simple day to day activities can be seen as signs of holiness.”

Climate change was also linked to growing inequality. As the gap between rich and poor grows, in most countries the poorer members of society are the ones that are left to suffer the devastation of their lives caused by the consequences of climate change. Apart from natural disasters caused by floods, droughts or forest fires, changes in the seasonal appearance of rain or excessive temperatures all make life difficult, particularly for those communities still dependent on subsistence farming. Communities with often few choices or resources to make major changes to their way of life. Communities often with little power to influence those who hold the reigns of government. So tackling climate change becomes a central priority for agencies such as CAFOD who have the long term welfare of those it helps always in it’s sights.

Small group guided meditation

In a guided meditation we were asked to reflect on living out the beatitudes in our own life and seeing the beatitudes as blessings rather than commandments. We were asked to try to identify distractions and obstacles to responding to the call to holiness. To consider how to develop new habits to help us grow in holiness and flourish in relationship with God, our neighbour, ourselves and the earth. It should be “part of our faith” not only to educate ourselves and our offspring but also change the way we live in the broader society.

Refreshingly, no trite, easy answers were proffered. However, in a final open discussion many participants shared ways in which they thought they might aid the fight, from simply planning meals better, so that everything is used and not thrown away, to weighing up the waste and pollution costs when considering whether to buy a new car.

This was the last of these retreats, of which there were twelve held across the country. Ms. Aidoo told me that the content took months to plan with input from the CAFOD theology team. Judging by the positive remarks from other participants, and my own experience, it was time well spent.

For further reading and ideas for action you may find these   article links useful:

Gaudete et Exsultate: Rejoice and Be Glad
A.pdf copy, in English, of the pope’s letter

To work to make our Parishes Live Simply Parishes

To Campaign with CAFOD to tackle Climate Change

To choose alternative World Gifts this Christmas

CAFOD Volunteer and Sudbury Parishioner heads to Poland to call for action on climate change

A Parishioner from St George’s Parish in Sudbury and CAFOD campaigner volunteer is heading to Poland in December to join thousands of people calling for world leaders to take action on climate change at a major UN conference.

Keith Routledge, who is a volunteer for the Catholic development charity CAFOD, will travel to Katowice, Poland, from the 5-11 December for the 24th Conference of the Parties – known as COP24.

CAFOD Campaign World Hunger COP24
CAFOD Campaign Volunteer Keith during previous CAFOD Campaign combating World Hunger

Passionate about tackling climate change, Keith is making the trip to call on 200 UN member states to ensure the full implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement.  Campaigners are hoping that member governments will show greater ambition in restricting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees and take action to have net zero emissions by 2050.

Keith will join campaigners from across Europe to share ideas for bringing about action back home in London to live more simply and sustainably. 

Keith, who supports renewable projects through his background as an engineer, said: “Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing humanity.  Unfettered anthropogenic climate change is already beginning to take effect. If we do not act decisively now, we are facing human suffering on a global scale.”

CAFOD’s Head of Advocacy, Neil Thorns, said: “It is great that Keith is able to travel to COP24 in Katowice to represent Catholics in the Westminster diocese.  COP24 represents an opportunity for CAFOD alongside its partners and sister organisations to ramp up the pressure on national governments to follow through on the commitments they made as part of Paris Agreement in 2015.

“The historic agreement that so many of CAFOD’s supporters, like Keith, pressed to be signed has now been ratified by 183 of the 197 Parties to the Convention.  However, as the recent IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels so clearly illustrates, the current global ambitions are not going to prevent this global temperature rise. 

Keith with CAFOD group with Cardinal Vincent during the CAFOD World Hunger campaign

“This is why CAFOD will push for greater ambitions to be set and an agreed framework that ensures immediate and effective action on climate change at the national level at the upcoming COP, highlighting the need to keep to 1.5, particularly for the poorest and most marginalised people.”

Catholics in England and Wales have shown a widespread response to Pope Francis’s letter, Laudato Si’, which calls on us to care for our common home by pledging to live more simply, sustainably and in solidarity with poor communities.

Find out more at cafod.org.uk/climate