Ficamaua! A young person reflects…

Chris Burkette is a young person from the Brentwood Diocese who is currently on CAFOD’s Step into the GAP programme. He writes:Chris cropped

“I recently ran a CAFOD workshop to help inform young people within the Brentwood Diocese of the events unfolding in the Maua community. As part of this workshop they were required to build a ‘home’ anywhere on the retreat site, to be as welcoming and cosy as they saw fit. After having visited each home, I was then tasked with destroying this space and leaving an eviction notice for them. Together we learnt about how this was connected to the situation in Sao Paulo: a place once left in need of rejuvenation but now blossoming…this all thanks to the locals there who over the past decade have put such hard work into returning the place to its original beauty.

Youth gather Mersea Island 2

Ficamaua! Brentwood youth gather to show their support for residents in the Maua community in Sau Paulo, Brazil

Until recently all of this was being threatened due to a court order to evict the 237 families from their homes at the end of November. To our great joy this eviction has been averted with the recent agreement between the housing department and the owner of the building for the purchase of the Maua building for around £4.6 million (20 million reais).

CAFOD believes that everyone has the power within them to stand up to such cases of injustice. CAFOD ask people to GAP: Give. Act. Pray. An amazing 4,000 people across England and Wales have signed the petition to demonstrate their solidarity with the people of the Maua community in Sao Paulo. We will continue to show our solidarity through our actions and prayers as we do in all cases of injustice and threats to human dignity.

Pope Francis; a shining example of someone who believes in and leads a life of generous giving reminds us “We should always remember the dignity and rights of those who work, condemn situations in which that dignity and those rights are violated, and help to ensure authentic progress by man and society.” I relate this to the hard work the residents have put into renovating their community. I believe that it is our duty to demonstrate our belief in their dignity through not only kind acts but through responding to this eviction order.

Facu Mau sign (002)I personally believe that it can be very difficult in the world today to know exactly when we should show signs of love to others around us due to fear of being manipulated or taken advantage of. To show love to others is to take a rather bold step; one of which a large amount of Faith is required to achieve”.

A reflection on Peace

Chris Burkette, a young person who is currently on our Step into the Gap Programme, reflects on the personal and public fruits of peace. Step into the Gap, CAFOD’s gap year programme, is an opportunity to volunteer in the UK, gain experience, develop leadership skills and visit an international CAFOD partner. 

With widespread talk in the world today of war and conflict it can feel that World leaders hold ‘Peace’ furthest from their thoughts, but as Christians we too must instigate ‘Peace’ not just in public but everyday with each other.

CAFOD base their work within a mission of Peace to lend a helping hand to our worldly neighbours through working very closely with their partners abroad.  These partners act as Disciples of Christ, preaching hope and love to all.

CAFOD holds strong values aimed to maintain Peace, for instance through Compassion and Hope. Altogether there is a combination of 7 Values: Compassion, Solidarity, Hope, Partnership, Dignity, Justice and Stewardship.

I believe that Peace is an important part of having faith. It is something I have struggled with for some time in my own Faith journey. The struggle being the issue of finding that deep inner Peace within being myself and so being able to generate a radiant Peace to all others.  I used to think that inner ‘Peace’ was having everything in my personal life sorted but I have recently come to realise that it is quite the opposite.  We must first be able to love ourselves as the unique creations we are from God before appreciating those around us.

Youth gather Mersea Island

Finding Peace on Mersea Island at the recent BCYS Youth Gather

We learn from Jesus that all of the Commandments simply hinge upon love firstly of God then of love of neighbour. I believe a fruit of this love is Peace which we can build within us over time. Along with this fruit, the Holy Spirit gives us the Gift of Joy to accompany love!

On my placement within Brentwood I am so often awe-stricken from the encounters I experience with Young people; so many of which carry out acts of Kindness, often simple acts even as opening a door or listening to others around them. In these times I feel the need to help, encourage and nurture other people’s Faith along with my own. I am only able to do so by God working through these people on retreat. It’s at these times I feel my faith strengthened.

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Young people at the Youth Gather event show their solidarity with the homeless families of the Maua Community

I’d end on the note that not only the Church needs Peace but also young people altogether, who need models of inspiration to demonstrate acts of Peace to one another. Now St John Paul ll refers to the young people of today as the Hope of the Church tomorrow – “In you young people there is hope, for you belong to the future, as the future belongs to you”. These words fill me with both a sense of Joy but feeling of responsibility for my future and the future of others I encounter.

In remembrance and celebration – Brentwood Diocese CAFOD Memorial Mass 2017

During November, the month of remembrance, we take time to pray for those who have died and give thanks for loved ones who have made a deep and lasting impression on our lives. 

Over the years, CAFOD has been blessed to work alongside the kindest and most committed friends any charity could hope for. The insight, faith and strength of our founders and early supporters still shape our values and way of working today.

But one of the saddest aspects of growing older, as individuals and as an organisation, is that some of our closest friends have passed away in recent months and years. In our own diocese, we have lost a number of friends who have played an inspirational and important role in our work.

Some may be familiar names to many of us, such as inspirational parish priests, or parish volunteers who’ve organised events and rallied local support for CAFOD campaigns. Many more will be men and women who’ve gone about their busy lives but also quietly found time to offer love, practical support and prayers to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities. Ordinary men and women who have made an extraordinary difference to people’s lives.

So in celebration of our inspiring friends, and as a small token of our appreciation for their years of kindness and dedication, CAFOD Brentwood will be holding its fourth Memorial Mass at Brentwood Cathedral on Thursday November 9 at 9.15am. We are honoured and indeed fortunate to have Bishop Alan Williams as the principal celebrant at the Mass.


All are welcome to join us, whether to remember fellow CAFOD supporters or members of your own family, friends and community who’ve passed away. At our Memorial Mass, you can take precious time to remember your loved ones, knowing that you’re among friends.

A Book of Remembrance will be presented and blessed by the celebrant at each Mass. If you would like to add a name to this list you would be very welcome; whether or not you can attend the service itself. Please get in touch with our volunteer centre at or by calling 01277 218730 if you’d like to know more.

Refreshments will be provided after the service, so we hope you’ll be able to stay on for a while to speak with other local CAFOD supporters and staff. It would be wonderful to see you at such a special event.