Papal acknowledgement to CAFOD volunteer Sheila Gallagher from Parish of Mary Immaculate & St Peter New Barnet

Congratulations to CAFOD Volunteer Sheila Gallagher has been recognised for her long-standing commitment to the church and to CAFOD with a special blessing from Pope Francis.

Sheila Gallagher receiving her Papal Blessing

Sheila Gallagher from Mary Immaculate and St Peter’s parish in Barnet was presented last Sunday with a special certificate of thanks from Pope Francis for her long-term commitment to the church through her volunteering with CAFOD for over 30 years.

For those who remember the issues of the 1980’s. It was the decade when our CAFOD partner St Oscar Romero was Archbishop in El Salvador and was murdered when celebrating Mass, for speaking out for the Justice for the Poor and Oppressed. 

It was the decade when Nelson Mandela was still in prison and we were campaign for his release and an end to Apartheid in South Africa.

It was also a time when many developing countries were being crippled by unpayable debt and CAFOD was campaigning for its cancellation.

At the time Sheila was at the forefront of regularly gathering concerned individuals from numerous parishes in the Westminster Diocese, who had been moved by the signs of the times to work for a more just and peaceful world.

Sheila and her fellow volunteers had been inspired by their faith and the social teaching of the Church to Campaign to help our sisters and brothers in the developing world with CAFOD.

For many years since, Sheila has played an active part in Justice and Peace nationally, with a particular focus on the environment.

Sheila Gallagher and Tony Sheen

At a more local level Sheila has raised awareness and participation in numerous CAFOD campaigns over the years and particularly more recently promoting Live Simply in her Parish in New Barnet which has committed to live more simply, more sustainably and in solidarity with people who are poor.  Last Summer the Parish was awarded the Live Simply Award.

Across the world today CAFOD partners are expressing their concern about unpredictable weather patterns never experienced before.

Pope Frances has invited us to listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor

On behalf of CAFOD – Thank you Sheila for you volunteering and inspiration.

Top Tips to speak at Mass for this Family Fast Day

CAFOD Southwark Blog

John Sibley is a volunteer at CAFOD and an experienced public speaker. Here, he shares his best tips and tells you everything you need to know about speaking at Mass for Family Fast Day. The message? Speaking at Mass can seem daunting, but all it takes is good preparation!

Why it’s important to speak at Mass

Speak at mass about Mahimur and tell her story. Speak at mass about Mahimur and tell her story.

Family Fast Day is on 15 March. On that day and throughout March, people like you will be standing up in Mass to speak out for our global neighbours.

Speaking at Mass and giving a Family Fast Day talk is so important because it brings the struggles of our global partners into the pews in our parishes. This family fast day we are focusing on Bangladesh.

It is not always easy to speak publicly. Many of us aren’t natural speakers. Many of us aren’t…

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The struggle for social and environmental justice in the Brazilian Amazon – A Volunteers Story

Here from CAFOD Volunteer Michael Walsh as he tells of his experience of a recent CAFOD event!

On Wednesday, about fifty CAFOD supporters experienced a much-needed antidote to the discouraging news coming out of Latin America in recent months. CAFOD Westminster organised a meeting about its work with indigenous peoples in the Brazilian Amazonian forests. Esther Gillingham – CAFOD’s Brazil Programme Officer – spoke with authority of the outstanding courage of the indigenous people and their organisations in the face of the depredations of mining companies, large-scale agriculture and developers who have already laid waste to vast swathes of the rain forest – the home of about 255 groups of indigenous people. Those same rain forests retain and absorb vast volumes of carbon dioxide. Unstable and extreme rainfall patterns such as droughts and floods are linked to deforestation in the Amazon region, and are widely thought to be a powerful factor in increasing climate change all over the world.

CAFOD Westminster Volunteers

Before the Portuguese first set foot in Brazil, between two to four million indigenous people lived there but smallpox, slavery and slaughter had reduced the number over centuries. Today there are fewer than 900,000 indigenous people living in Brazil (98% of their lands are in the Legal Amazon region), who have been diminished by nearly one fifth as a result of ruthless and mostly unlawful incursions by commercial interests.  For Brazil has a most impressive legal framework protecting the rights and the lands of indigenous people, guaranteed through the 1988 Constitution. The Brazilian Government is bound in particular by its ratification of Convention 169 of the International Labour Organisation proclaiming and protecting the inalienable rights of indigenous and tribal peoples.

The prospects for the free practice of these rights plummeted with the election last year of Brazil’s new government who are proposing to halt indigenous land demarcations, and open up indigenous reserves to mining. The fifty million people in Brazil who live in abject poverty have no reason to hope that the new government will help them to secure a better life in his determination to promote economic development regardless of the immediate and fatal long-term consequences for the national and global environment.

CAFOD stands with all in the forests and favelas in Brazil whose life prospects and freedoms are under threat.  It works with partner organisations who are at the cutting edge of the struggle for fair treatment. CAFOD stands with heroic individuals like Joenia Wapichana, an indigenous lawyer who is the first indigenous woman to be elected to Congress. Through taking part in the Climate Change Campaign and through contributing to the forthcoming Family Fast Day collections this Lent all can join in the struggle for justice, peace and global climate sustainability.

By Michael Walsh Office Volunteer.