Volunteering Experience: Speaking at Mass

Jed Murphy, CAFOD Volunteer, inspires us all to speak at mass with his insightful experience!

CAFOD volunteer Jed Murphy speaking at mass

CAFOD volunteer Jed Murphy

“Just over 7 years ago I had one of those life-changing moments.  I had a day’s annual leave and was lazing on my couch at home.  Around me was every conceivable gadget you could think of:  large TV, games console, several tablets & smartphones.  And I thought to myself:  I have all this and yet so many people around the world have nothing.   I could not help but think it wasn’t right.

I felt that something had to change.  I had to try and do something to make a difference.”

“I had grown up with CAFOD.  I knew that they helped people in need around the world: but I knew little more than that.  So I found the CAFOD website, learned a little more about what they did and clicked on a link to apply to be a volunteer.   I wasn’t sure what I could do, or how I could help.

As part of the process I met one of the regional volunteer managers.  His name was Jim and he was amazing.  One of the things that he suggested, was whether I would be willing to speak at Masses and make the appeal in support of CAFOD’s Lent and Harvest Fast Days.

I have been doing this for the last 7 years!

As a volunteer speaker one of the things we do is make appeals at those Parishes that don’t have a regular CAFOD contact of their own.  When I first started volunteering, that was a little daunting – speaking at an unfamiliar parish and meeting lots of new people.   But every single person I have met over the years has been so welcoming and lovely – and every Parish Priest has made me a cuppa between Masses.

And there are two great highlights as a speaker.  The first is when you get a round of applause from the congregation at the end of the appeal.  That’s an amazing feeling.  The second is learning how much money was raised as a result of the talk.  For me that’s about making that difference that enables CAFOD to help those less fortunate around the world.” Hear how CAFOD gives a voice to those in need.

“At the beginning of each appeal I always introduce myself and make sure that people know I am a volunteer.  I always hope that if people know that I am giving my time freely and that I am here because I believe in the work that CAFOD does, then they may listen just a little more intently and perhaps give just a little more.

Over the years I’ve put together a little checklist for speaking at Mass that might be helpful for others:

  • I always call the Parish in the week before the talk – to introduce myself and make sure all the posters and donation envelopes have been delivered
  • I check whether there will be a collection during/after Mass (or perhaps even the following week) and then weave that message in the talk. It’s important that people know the best way they can take action
  • I try and make the words my own – I always edit the CAFOD talk to make it feel more natural for me to say. I’ll even edit it after the first talk if certain passages felt overly wordy or I felt that people weren’t listening to a certain section
  • I never make the talk overly long – getting the message across in the shortest amount of time maximises its impact and makes sure the congregation doesn’t switch off (that was a tip from a Parish priest in one of my early talks!)
  • I get to the church a little early and arrange the leaflets and posters so the maximum number of people get a chance to see the appeal
  • I always stand at the back at the end of each Mass until the last person has left – to accept any donations, hand out envelopes, answer questions or even recruit new volunteers”

    CAFOD Leaflets Table display

    CAFOD Leaflets

“I believe that the Fast Day appeals are so very important.  In our busy lives it’s easy to forget the poverty & hardship that affects so many people around the world.   But as a speaker at Mass we can tell the real stories of real people whose lives CAFOD is transforming.  And these powerful stories encourage others to get involved: from a donation in the collection basket, to making a regular donation, an offer of help or simply a prayer.”

Are you encouraged by Jed’s CAFOD experience as a volunteer? Get involved by volunteering with CAFOD and speak at mass this Fast Day.


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