Celebrating 50 Years of CAFOD!

A volunteer holds a picture of Jackie Stuyt – one of the women behind the first Family Fast Day and a leading light in CAFOD’s founding. (Credit: Simon Rawles)

Nearly 2,500 supporters packed Westminster Cathedral for a mass of celebration for CAFOD’s 50th Anniversary. 

Supporters from Westminster joined coach loads of others from dioceses all over England and Wales on Saturday to give thanks for 50 years of standing in solidarity with the poor, and to pray for the continued commitment to work toward ending poverty and injustice. 

The mass was celebrated by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, with the homily given by Bishop John Arnold.  Bishop John spoke  warmly of the work CAFOD has accomplished throughout the world, drawing on his experiences as a CAFOD trustee and his firsthand accounts of seeing CAFOD’s partners in action. 

Symbols of CAFOD’s commitment to the greater world were present throughout the mass.  The mass began with a procession of images depicting a significant person from each decade of CAFOD’s history, including Davi Yanomami of the Yanomami tribe in Brazil, and Cardinal David Hume.  During the offertory, a number of gifts symbolising CAFOD’s work were brought up to the sanctuary, including a Romero Crucifix hand-painted by one of CAFOD’s partners in El Salvador.  Following communion, St Ignatius African Choir, Stamford Hill, began the Rite of Recommitment with the Nigerian Hymn ‘Kele Chineke Jaa Ya Mma’ (‘Thank God and Praise Him’). 

St Ignatius African Choir, Stamford Hill, performs at mass

It was an emotional day for many supporters directly affected by CAFOD’s work.  Margaret Mwaniki, a CAFOD trustee and partner from Kenya, spoke to the congregation of her experience working with CAFOD in Kenya, as well as a strong call for support for CAFOD’s latest campaign, Thirst for Change.  For Ellen Teague, a former CAFOD employee, the mass “felt like a family reunion,” reuniting her with old colleagues and new friends who shared in this common cause of “undertaking jubliean tasks of social justice.”

 Many thanks to all who attended the mass and for everyone who has contributed to CAFOD’s work over the last half-century. 

How will you fight poverty and injustice in your lifetime?  Maybe you could speak to schools and inspire a new generation to stand alongside the poor?  Perhaps you could use your sporting prowess to raise money for CAFOD’s work?  Maybe you are one who is thirsty to make a change in the world?  If you’re looking for a way to get more involved with CAFOD’s work, contact us here in the Westminster office: 0208 449 6970 or westminster@cafod.org.uk.

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