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.

In support of refugees at home & overseas

On Monday 8 May Brentwood Cathedral Justice & Peace group organised a talk and discussion on how we can support refugees in our own communities and overseas. To provide an international development perspective, CAFOD’s World News Officer, Laura Ouseley, spoke about our work with refugees in Greece, Lebanon and Jordan.

Over 50 people from across the Brentwood Diocese attended to explore ways in which our parish and local communities can help make a difference to the lives of refugees.

Among the items discussed were suggestions for ways in which we can befriend refugees, offering temporary accommodation, how to support CAFOD’s refugee work and that of other charities in the UK, and the idea of sponsoring a family to live in the UK as part of the UK Government Community Sponsorship Scheme. More details on these ideas can be found here

It is hoped that the meeting is a catalyst for action. If you are interested in being part of a working group to take this initiative forward, or if you have any other ideas on how we can help refugees please contact Brenda Underwood from the Brentwood Cathedral Justice & Peace group at brendaund@gmail.com

Local Wickford student travels to parliament to ask MPs important questions before the general election

 

CAFOD supporter Kiera Harman, 17, travelled from Wickford to Westminster to speak with MPs in Parliament to ensure the interests of the world’s poorest people will be kept in mind during the upcoming general election.

On Monday 24 April, sixty supporters of CAFOD travelled from across the country to meet with MPs from different political parties at Speaker’s House in Parliament. Kiera Harman met with the politicians to speak about maintaining commitments to supporting people living in poverty through UK aid and action to tackle climate change.

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Young Leaders at Parliament showing their support for CAFOD’s new campaign

Speaking at the event, Kiera said: “It’s important to be here to talk to MPs so we can get them to understand the things that matter to us. I study government and politics at A-level and I’m really interested in politics, so this is a good opportunity to get more connected. I also want to ask my MP what he is doing about climate change. CAFOD is doing a lot of work in this area but I want to know what my MP’s party is doing.”

Commons Speaker the Rt Hon John Bercow MP told the reception:

“For my part, I always think the greatest moral challenge of our times is to try to do something about the gross crisis and disfiguring scar of global poverty. The fact that 1,000 million people around the world exist on less than a dollar a day and very large numbers of people besides exist on only moderately more than that is, frankly, a source not only of anxiety but of real shame to us all.”

Kiera is part of CAFOD’s Young Leadership programme, which offers training to help young campaigners become leaders in their local and global communities. Also at the Parliamentary reception were CAFOD ‘MP Correspondents’, supporters who write to MPs on international development issues such as the impact of climate change and trade practices.

CAFOD is encouraging Catholics to ask election candidates to support UK commitments on tackling poverty overseas and climate change, as well as working to ensure that Britain remains an outward-looking and welcoming nation.

Neil Thorns, CAFOD’s Director of Advocacy, said:

“It is so great to see local constituents raising their voices before the general election and making their local political representatives aware of issues that are important to them.

“Pope Francis himself warns that people living in poverty can often be an ‘afterthought’ in political discussions and that’s why it’s so important that we remind candidates of the need to remain an outward-looking nation – one that cares for the interests of people in the world’s poorest communities.

“This is why the commitment to maintaining UK support for overseas aid is crucial for saving lives and pulling people out of poverty.”

Kiera added she feels it’s important people get to grips with the details of what their parliamentary candidates are proposing. “I would encourage other people to make sure they read party manifestos, so they’re aware of the issues that will affect them,” she said.