Congratulations to Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrew in Hitchin for being the first parish in Hertfordshire to be awarded the livesimply award for living modestly, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor.
The award aims to recognise the efforts of members of the Christian faith to adjust to a more sustainable way of life. In order to attain this accolade the parish needed to undertake at least nine actions through which it put livesimply’s three key principles into practice. These principles are:
- To live simply – To take only what we really need from the earth and not demand more and more
- To live sustainably – To take account of the impact our choices have on other people and on the earth that nourishes us
- To live in solidarity with those living in poverty – To make a strong and lasting commitment to the common good so that all people can live life to the full
The parishioners have done a wide variety of things to put these principles into action in their daily lives. They are strong Fairtrade supporters and take every opportunity to recycle as much as possible – for example, children who made their 1st Holy Communion in 2012 created pictures out of recycled materials. These were then displayed in the Church to inspire others to waste as little as possible.
The parish also takes practical action to reach out to people living in poverty in the local area by supporting the North Herts Sanctuary which provides nightly accommodation to homeless people in the area. The sanctuary is run by ‘Churches Together in Hitchin’ and Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrew pays part of the mortgage for the property. Parishioners have also helped in the running of the organisation by taking on roles such as those of trustees.
Parishioners are kept aware of injustices happening around the world and encouraged to take action to speak out for the poor and the environment by notices in the parish Newsletter, email petitions, posters and campaign card signings. They also make regular donations to charities such as CAFOD through the church’s ‘One World Group’.
Two assessors arrived in April 2013 to see the work of the parish and were delighted with what they found. They said the parish was a model of livesimply principles and commended it for its Reflection and Worship, Practical Action and Reaching Out activities.
The award is to be officially presented at mass on the last sunday of June by CAFOD director Tom O’Connor.
Thanks again to parish priest Father Michael and everyone involved at Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrew, Hitchin, for the great work becoming a livesimply parish! The award is a great way for parishes to come together and make a lasting difference on both a local and global scale. If you are interested in helping your parish get involved, or if you just want to find out more about the livesimply award scheme, please visit http://livesimplyaward.org.uk/.