Christmas blessings to all our supporters and volunteers

We would like to take this opportunity to wish you a Holy Christmas and a happy new year.

The CAFOD Brentwood office will be closed from Friday 20th December and will re-open on Monday 6th January.

Joanna, Denise and Mary

Joanna, Denise and Mary

Joanna, Denise and Mary thought you might like a round-up of the year’s events:

It’s been a busy year, particularly in schools – with 40 primary schools and 17 secondary schools visited. A huge thank you to all our dedicated schools volunteers who give so much time to planning and undertaking the visits.

We have also reached an increased number of people in parishes thanks to our team of speakers who visit parishes over the two Fast Days – thank you also to Parish Priests who invite CAFOD into their parishes to thank and update supporters.

In February, Denise visited partners in Sierra Leone with young people taking part in the Step into the Gap gap year programme. Staying with Caritas Makeni, they saw livelihood and disaster risk reductions projects first hand. Seeing how improved farming methods, and cashew trees, could improve the income of communities thus enabling the children to attend school regularly and for people to remain in their rural communities rather than looking for work in the more urban areas.

Over 7500 people took part in the Hungry for Change campaign action and we can add to that 1100 actions at the V Festival in August and the hundreds of actions taken by schools. There was good representation from the Diocese for the Big IF rally and the Religious Lobby.

50 supporters joined us on a rather cold and windy day at Hanningfield Reservoir back in April and we had runners in the London Marathon, the Great South Run and the Great North Run. Closer to home, 20 people joined the Pedal against Poverty bike ride and special thanks to Susan and Gina from Palmer Academy in Seven Kings for taking part in the Harlow Abseil. And we had the only two CAFOD riders in the inaugral London 100 bike ride – Nick and John. Amber walked 6 miles a day for 40 days during Lent – the list goes on and a big thank you to everyone.

Our Meditation concert, which co-incided with Andy Murray reaching the Wimbledon final, drew an audience of 70.

We welcomed Fidel and Erasmo, Connect2 partners from El Salvador who visited Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Wanstead and Blessed Sacrament parish in Chelmsford.

Whilst it’s not possible to name every parish, mention should go to Prittlewell parish for raising £4000 to buy the World Gift of a Health Centre.

Eamonn and Aisling visited CAFOD projects in Sao Paulo before attending World Youth Day.

And recently we celebrated the first Livesimply Cathedral in England and Wales. The team at Brentwood Cathedral working for several months to achieve this award – well done!

As well as the good news, there were a number of emergencies during the year – including Syria, Niger, South Sudan and Kenya and of course in November super typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines. Once again, supporters in the Diocese responded quickly and generously.

Our sincere thanks to you all.

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Meanings of Christmas . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fr. Andrew Greeley, Woman’s Day, 12-22-81

“It might be easy to run away to a monastery, away from the commercialization, the hectic hustle, the demanding family responsibilities of Christmas-time. Then we would have a holy Christmas. But we would forget the lesson of the Incarnation, of the enfleshing of God—the lesson that we who are followers of Jesus do not run from the secular; rather we try to transform it. It is our mission to make holy the secular aspects of Christmas just as the early Christians baptized the Christmas tree. And we do this by being holy people—kind, patient, generous, loving, laughing people—no matter how maddening is the Christmas rush…”

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