‘A new visiting priest concelebrated Mass during the summer. He was Fr Gabriel Sosu, a fellow Ghanaian and former seminarian with Dom Bernard, the Parish Priest in Oakwood. Fr Gabriel was spending part of his sabbatical away from his work as a Divine Word missionary in Hwange Diocese, Zimbabwe, by helping out at Christ the King. After Mass, Fr Gabriel saw that near the sacristy was a door leading to the offices of the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development in the Westminster Diocese. That filled him with delight.
“In 2005 there was a devastating drought in my area of apostolate in Matabeleland in Zimbabwe,” explained Fr Gabriel. “I was at that time stationed at Dlamini Catholic mission. CAFOD funded the relief food programme for the local people for almost half a year. I was personally involved in that they had two Benz or Bedford trucks in which they would bring food to my mission; I had two big storerooms. I was responsible for carting them to the smaller villages further away, where I have my Christian communities spread all over the area.”
In asking Dom Bernard if he could spend some time at Christ the King in Cockfosters, Fr Gabriel had no idea that he would be coming into contact again with CAFOD.
“That year CAFOD was our saviour: they came to our aid in the moment of dire need. At that time all I knew was that CAFOD from the UK was funding the food relief programme, so when I came here and saw their offices, that brought memories back for me.”
From the day of his election and choice of name, Pope Francis has brought renewed vigour and urgency to the longstanding commitment of the Church to meet the call of Jesus to help those most in need. Even earlier than this, at the pre-conclave General Congregation, he had suggested that when Jesus had said “Behold I stand at the door and knock” he was asking not to be let in but to be let out of the Church into the periferia – an Italian word meaning periphery but carrying connotations of poor parts of large cities and of rural areas afflicted by natural disasters, where those in most acute need scratch a living.
Today, there are about 870 million people, one in eight of the members of Our Lord’s family, who go to sleep each night without enough food to eat. As the official aid charity of the bishops of England and Wales, CAFOD has the opportunity to have two fast days each year, and generous contributions of Catholics to CAFOD have enabled it to equip communities like those round the Dlamini mission in Zimbabwe to become self-reliant in meeting needs for food, water, and other basic needs.”
This year’s Harvest Fast Day will take place on Friday 4 October, with talks happening at parishes around the country during the weekends before and after this date. Supporters are encouraged to donate the cost of a meal to help those people around the world who do not have enough to eat. To find out more, go to www.cafod.org.uk/harvest.