Bon Voyage Laudato Si Cyclists!

The intrepid cyclists, including CAFOD volunteer John Fogarty (WGC), Fr Joe Ryan, Parish Priest for West Green Road, Tottenham, and Barbara Kentish, J&P Fieldworker for the Diocese

The intrepid cyclists, including CAFOD volunteer John Fogarty (WGC), Fr Joe Ryan, Parish Priest for West Green Road, Tottenham, and Barbara Kentish, J&P Fieldworker for the Diocese

At 10am on Saturday 29th August fifteen cyclists, including everything from students to priests to pensioners, set out on Phase 1 of the London-Paris Pilgrimage for the Climate. Their pilgrimage takes them 100 miles from Westminster Cathedral to Newhaven, following the Avenue Verte- the Green Way linking London and Paris.

Phase 2 will start at Dieppe in November and follow the Avenue Verte for 130 miles to Paris to join in meetings, lobbies and rallies during the UN Paris Climate Change Conference to push for an international decision to save our planet from further global warming.

CAFOD has been working alongside Westminster Justice and Peace Commission and the rest of The Climate Coalition to campaign for action on climate change. The aim of this pilgrimage is to deliver the Climate Change Petition to the UN meetings to add our voice to the cry for change.

Sign CAFOD’s climate change petition

You can also download a copy for you school or parish 

Well done to all who took part! If you are interested in signing up for the second leg in November please get in touch with Westminster Justice and Peace at 0208 888 4222 justice@rcdow.org.uk

UCM and St Lawrence’s, Feltham, host talk on CAFOD’s work in El Salvador!

Thank you to the Union of Catholic Mothers and everyone at St Lawrence’s Parish, Feltham, for inviting CAFOD’s Tony Sheen to talk about our work in El Salvador!

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The attendees listened with interest as Tony spoke about his recent Romero Trust Pilgrimage, sharing stories of the life and work of Archbishop Romero and the Martyrs of El Salvador. He then went on to describe the work of CAFOD’s partners in El Salvador today, and how parishes can get involved and connect with a people CAFOD work alongside, such as the rural community of Puentecitos, through the Connect2 programme.

The Union of Catholic Mothers then presented CAFOD with a kind donation. Volunteers Bernadine Doran and Theresa Butcher also explained that the parish had been holding a coffee morning on the first Friday of each month for CAFOD since March 2009, raising a fantastic £1634.83 for CAFOD so far!

Thank you again to Maureen Dethridge and the UCM, Bernadine Doran, Theresa Butcher and everyone at St Lawrence’s for the excellent work and warm welcome!

If your parish would like to join in solidarity with a community in El Salvador, or elsewhere in the developing world, why not find out about becoming a Connect2 parish? You can find out more by visiting cafod.org.uk/connect2.

The Romero Trust pilgrims return

Tony Sheen has returned from his pilgrimage to El Salvador! He writes:

I have just returned to England and have been inspired by many people we have met. El Salvador is a beautiful country with warm friendly people.

Beautiful IMG_2750

The horrors of the civil war in the 1980s and the atrocities of the death squads has scarred a generation. Many of the army perpetrators guilty of planning these murders have yet to be brought to justice. I have heard personal testimonies from people who witnessed these events and visited sacred places where many of our twentieth century Christian martyrs, including Oscar Romero, were murdered. El Salvador still has huge inequalities between rich and poor. Most of the country’s wealth is owned by approximately five rich families.

I have been challenged to look at the world and the injustices and reflect on my own reality in line with the gospel. To engage in a “see, judge and act theology.” I live in the world as a committed Catholic and Christian. However, as someone who could afford to pay £3000 for two places on the Romero Trust Pilgrimage, am I closer to the rich or the poor in the world in my lifestyle? (Even if our morning showers were cold!)

However, there are many signs of hope for the future. It would be wonderful to meet some inspiring people and projects supported by both the Romero Trust and CAFOD. People living the gospel and working alongside the poor. People such as Sister Cruz and the wonderful project of hope “Fe Algeria Education programme”, run by the Poor Clare sisters in a very violent area called La Chacra.

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The project is working with parents who have experienced years of violence and murder within their community. The school provides a safe place for the children to learn, away from the violent streets.

I will never forget Anna Julio, an elderly grandmother from the community who struggled to walk but gave an emotional speech saying:

“Thank you for your support. I pray to God it will continue. Our people are poor, but very hardworking. We are so moved that there are people in the world like you who care. We know you are not rich but give from what you have and that you do not have money spare. Thank you.”

The Poor Clare Sisters’ project is financially supported by CAFOD and The Romero Trust.

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During my visit, I was lucky enough to meet the CAFOD connect 2 community in Puentecitos, who pray for CAFOD supporters they met in England every Thursday! I recommend parishes think about joining a community in the developing world through Connect2. To find out more, go to http://www.cafod.org.uk/Fundraise/Fundraising-ideas/Connect2.

I have seen some of the chickens in a poor community near Puentecitos, which were funded through CAFOD world gifts and help provide eggs for the community run bakery. I encourage you to buy CAFOD world gifts this Christmas and recommend them to others too. See http://www.cafod.org.uk/Fundraise/Fundraising-ideas/World-Gifts.

There are also challenges within the Church on how they address the unexplained closure of the Human Rights Office. I will support any initiatives from the Romero Trust to ensure the Church is a champion for human rights in El Salvador. Keep up to date with their work at http://www.romerotrust.org.uk/.

I look forward to the official canonisation of Oscar Romero and the Martyrs of El Salvador!

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Read all of  Tony’s diary of his pilgrimage to El Salvador: https://cafodwestminster.wordpress.com/tag/tonypilgrimage/.