Power to Be campaign spans the generations at Shoeburyness parish

Brian Fitzgerald, chair  of the ‘senior’ Justice and Peace team at St George and the English Martyrs, Shoeburyness, describes how CAFOD’s Power to Be campaign captured the imagination and support of people of a range of ages in the parish…

The parishioners of St George & the English Martyrs, Shoeburyness, listened spellbound to very distinct Power To Be presentations on the weekend of 30th September/1st October.

The parish has 2 Justice & Peace groups – A Youth group, aged from 11 to 17 years, and a Senior group, comprising mainly of Senior Citizens.  Following attendance at the National Justice & Peace Network meeting in Romero House in May the idea was hatched that the groups could utilise their differing  talents  to launch the campaign during the masses before the World Bank meetings  in October.

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Members of the Youth J&P group at St George’s present the Power to Be campaign to parishioners

Our Parish Priest, Fr Brett, was typically enthusiastic to encourage participation from a range of lay people. (He was even more so when he realised that on the weekend in question he would be recovering from jet lag following a transatlantic flight).  Thus the idea became reality:

Every child has the power in them to achieve great things

The Youth group leaders combined with the Chair of the Senior group to edit a Powerpoint presentation ensuring that it retained the required impact.  The young members of the group were so enthusiastic that we were able to have different teams presenting at each of the 2 masses, a Youth Mass and a regular sung Mass, in St George`s church.

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Signed Power to Be action cards placed at the altar at St George’s

Meanwhile, it was decided that the Senior group would present the campaign at the Mass at the  Chapel of St Gregory in nearby Thorpe Bay. At this Mass we limited ourselves to a short talk, edited to include pertinent facts and figures, presented impeccably by our most senior member, Brigid Hogan, a sprightly 90 year old, and prayers of intercession.

Fr Brett reinforced the message behind the campaign with carefully chosen words of reflection at the end of each celebration and the reaction of those present was extremely positive with nearly 300 petition cards completed.

Seeds and food for thought this Harvest Fast Day

Today is Harvest Fast Day and across the country families, individuals, parishes and schools will be standing in solidarity with people such as Edelmira (below) and her family in her community in El Salvador which is the focus of this year’s Fast Day appeal.

El Salvador was of course also the home of Blessed Oscar Romero, who is still held with deep reverence by Salvadoreans and many millions of others across the world. The prayer attributed to Oscar Romero, ‘A step along the way’ reminds us of the importance to allow space for God’s grace in our work and in our lives:

We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.

it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but we are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs.

Grace and abundance are two themes closely connected to CAFOD’s approach to Harvest. Drawing on the story of the wedding at Cana, CAFOD’s theological adviser, Fr Augusto Zampini Davies describes how an appreciation of the significance of harvest is enriched by an understanding of ideas of grace and abundance:

“In ancient biblical times, harvest was a feast connected with God’s abundant gift. As citizens of our modern world, detached from actual food production, we can misinterpret the importance of those feasts.  But we are still familiar with wedding feasts.   The celebration of a good harvest, whose first products were offered to God, could be compared to a good wedding feast, in which wine, food and gifts are offered to the invitees.  In both celebrations, when related to God, the centrality is abundance: of fruits, love and joy, an abundance that transforms all who partake in the feast, bolstering their capacity to live life to the full”.

So let us make room once more for God’s grace this Harvest, and as we fast and enjoy our Prayer cardsimple soup lunches, remember that in our work for CAFOD we are sowing the seeds for the great Harvest that is to come.

Thank you to all our volunteers for all you have done and are doing this Harvest Fast Day.



Celebrating our schools volunteers

This week is National Volunteers’ Week, and so we’d like to affirm and celebrate the contribution of our wonderful schools volunteers…

CAFOD Brentwood has a dedicated team of 14 volunteers who visit schools across the diocese to deliver assemblies and workshops in order to raise awareness about social justice and CAFOD’s work. From an early age, children and young people have a keen sense of justice. School volunteers inform and inspire them, helping them to turn their passion for justice into real action. With school volunteers’ input, they learn to care for their global sisters and brothers, both now and as they grow up.

Our talented schools volunteers come from a range of backgrounds including IT, social work, teaching, project management, nursing, construction, the civil service, and administration. Some are retired while others are in paid employment and they all share a passion for communicating  our work and issues of poverty and social justice to children and young people.

Schools volunteers briefing 19-1-17

Our team of schools volunteers at a briefing on the assemblies and workshops we offer to schools

In 2016/17 our team visited over 70% of schools in the diocese, that’s 64 primary and secondary schools. And during this time they delivered over 110 assemblies and workshops. 42% of schools were visited during the Lent term alone.

As well as raising awareness of poverty and social injustice among children and young people, our schools volunteers have helped schools across the diocese raise over £53,000 for CAFOD during 2016/17.

We greatly appreciate the the work of our schools volunteers Peter, Linda, Hans, John, Cynthia, Alice, Angela, Denis, Cathy, Jan, Brenda, Breda, Mark and Hilary. Thank you all!