Souper response to Harvest Fast Day by Cathedral parishioners

A delicious Harvest Fast Day soup lunch took place this afternoon at the Cathedral on on a beautiful early Autumn day. Over 35 parishioners were treated to three varieties of soup including parsnip, coriander and carrot, broccoli and pea and Autumn vegetable.

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Cathedral parish volunteers Louise, Maria, Margaret and Maidie served the soup and hosted parishioners in the parish hall

It was a fantastic response to an invitation to break the fast on Family Fast Day and parishioners had the opportunity to learn a little more about CAFOD’s work as well as the current Harvest Fast Day appeal.

Margaret, one of CAFOD’s parish volunteers at the Cathedral, said ‘I’m delighted that lots of parishioners have joined our fast day lunch today. Soup lunches are a great way of bringing people in the parish together, in support of those who are less fortunate than ourselves’.

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Brentwood Cathedral parishioners enjoy their soup lunch in the parish hall

Chris Driscoll, CAFOD’s staff representative in Brentwood, said ‘It was pleasing to speak to so many people who told us that they really value what CAFOD does, and who want to support our work in a number of ways. The role that soup lunches have in helping to build a sense of community and participation in parish life cannot be underestimated. To see people enjoy sharing a simple lunch together is a significant gesture of solidarity with the poor and vulnerable across the world”.

Harvest Family Fast Day 2018 – Water brings strength and hope in Uganda

This Harvest Family Fast Day, Rosie Heaton, CAFOD’s Regional News Office offers an example of how supporters donations bring hope to some of the poorest communities in the world.

Family Fast Day Logo Lent 2018

For twenty-eight years, Longora has lived in the same rural community close to Moroto Town in Uganda.  Every morning, she fetches water from the borehole to make porridge for herself and her family.  Longora cuts charcoal to sell to make her living, and lives in a round, straw hut with seven others, including her husband and their children.



Before the borehole was built in her village, Longora would collect water from the river. While the river was near, it was unclean and carried diseases.  Many people in Longora’s home suffered with frequent sickness because of drinking the contaminated river water.

For a while after the borehole was installed, the village were able to access to clean water easily.  But when the borehole became faulty, this stopped.  Longora was pregnant and had no choice but to drink and cook with water from the river once again. Unsurprisingly she fell ill with eyesight problems and dietary issues.

Fast day6 Oct 2018

It took a long time for Longora to recover and sometimes her joints still ache, but with the help of CAFOD partner Caritas Moroto she is now able to access clean water throughout the year.  Caritas Moroto fixed the borehole and offered training to ensure that if it ever breaks again, the local community are now equipped with the skills needed to repair it.

The help provided by Caritas Moroto’s project, funded by CAFOD supporters in England and Wales, is making a huge difference to the lives of Longora and her family: “We are healthier and feel better. We can bathe, and because we have pit latrines, we no longer defecate in the river. The knowledge we have of making pit latrines was given to us by Caritas Moroto. We have embraced it and put it into practice.”

This Harvest, you can help by praying for Longora and our sisters and brothers across the world.  By donating to CAFOD’s Harvest appeal, you can empower communities overseas to live with dignity and equip families with the skills they need to support each other.

To find out how you can support women like Longora this Harvest, please visit:





My year of faith-filled discovery with Step into the Gap

What I learned on my gap year with CAFOD

In his final blog, gapper Chris Burkette reflects on his year and his hopes for the future. Thank you Chris for your valuable input this year, and we wish you all the best in your future aspirations.

Passing on the baton

As my year as a CAFOD Gapper draws near to a close I recall the journey I’ve been on. From the verChristopher Burkettey start when I was learning and receiving new CAFOD resources with great enthusiasm, filled with high anticipation for the year ahead, all the way to returning from the international visit.

Finally, I now pass on, train and walk with next year’s gapper, Kiera, who will be placed at Brentwood.  For me, it stands as a defining moment as I start to transition into another year of my youth ministry, here which has grown as a second home for me.  I am staying at Brentwood for another year before going away to university to study a long time favourite of mine – psychology.

But, after a year of working with CAFOD, where do I go from here? How do I carry on what I have learned and continue to act as a steward of the Gospel with CAFOD and at my retreat centre?

In my last blog I spoke about how each of us have a unique call in life, a vocation.  Linked closely with this I have found that this programme has shaped me over the past twelve months, helping me form a stronger sense of purpose and realise my identity.  When I say identity I don’t just mean how we look, what we do as a job or how we are seen by others.  I agree that these are all recognisable features linked with identity but I believe that the idea of our own personal identity is a lot deeper than a surface based self.

The importance of identity

As a Christian, I believe that identity means so much more. It is our dreams, aspirations, visions, goals, passions and desires for what we want to achieve in life. For me, both as an individual and a Catholic, this contributes to what I would call my purpose… helping towards a better world.  I want to live in a  world where everyone has an equal chance and opportunity to follow what they believe in – a crucial part of anyone forming an identity – and achieving everything we work so hard for like peace, justice and equality.

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Chris reflected on what dignity means throughout his gap year

The concept of identity is also important for CAFOD as an organisation. Its principles and values – dignity, solidarity, compassion, hope, stewardship and partnership – mean a lot to me. I relate most to the value of dignity which refers to a great respect for human life in all its fullness, cherishing it gratefully as a gift from God. In my eyes, CAFOD takes inspiration for this from the start of the Bible in Genesis, where we learn we are made in the image of God.  We are all made equally, and we should treat each other equally.

The Church recognises our identities in two ways: following in the example established by Jesus within the Gospels, and by being really honest and true to ourselves in our God-given gifts and talents. When we look to Jesus we must know that we cannot fail as everything He did and taught was done so in divine love and compassion, qualities Pope Francis urges us all to follow while thinking of God and considering our neighbour with love, care and tenderness. St Paul, a key saint in the church wrote 14 different letters to groups of people, one which was to the Galatians.  We hear: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” Galatians 5:22-23.

Often referred to as the fruits of the Holy Spirit, these are things that we should all aim to hold and demonstrate in our daily lives. It is important to notice that it’s true – there are no rules against any of these fruits. For example, who could criticise a person for being patient or harvest anger towards someone expressing true kindness? We cannot. Similarly, we can acknowledge that CAFOD’s values can play a key role in forming identity and character, and so making the world a place for everyone.


Blessed Oscar Romero is to be canonised on 14 October 2018

Blessed Oscar Romero famously said: “It is not God’s will for some to have everything and others to have nothing”. A statement so true. The world should be a place we can all share together!




A final message

Over my time as a Gapper I have been educated about world issues and the importance of treating people with dignity – highlighted especially when overseas during my time in Sierra Leone – for instance with meeting many locals. I have learned about both sustainability and stewardship when giving talks to and leading workshops with young people.

Chris with the team of 2017-18 ‘gappers’

Step into the Gap has taught me to be equally authentic as I am able to make a difference!

All of these small parts have had their place in my heart and mind over the past year as a Gapper and is something I hope to continue positively influencing me.

It is my belief that we each have our universal identity and place within creation.

For Gappers who may read this – I couldn’t urge you more to fully grasp this rare opportunity to make a difference. Aim high, dream big and aspire for social justice!

To end this specific blog as a Gapper I can’t encourage people enough if you are considering a gap year and want to make a difference and raise awareness of issues surrounding social justice, with the rare opportunity to journey overseas and absorb rich culture, then…this is CERTAINLY the programme for you!

Please do continue to pray not just for me and the current Gappers but also for all future Gappers on the programme. Pray that they may equally get the chance to make a difference in the World around them. Lastly, consider a favourite quote of mine… “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” Matthew 28:19.

As always – continue to spread the Gospel.

Find out more about Step into the Gap.