Step into the Gap: Let the Preparation Begin!

Caroline, a Step into the Gap Volunteer placed at Newman University, shares her experience of preparing for her overseas visit to the Holy Land and reflects on her pre-departure feelings.

As I was making my way back to Birmingham after just finishing four days of preparation with the other gap year volunteers, my overseas visit has suddenly become very real. I’m now up to date on everything from the weather in the Holy Land (very unpredictable) to the length of the flight (six hours). As I became more aware of the logistics behind my trip the group and I began to discuss how we were feeling and what we hoped to achieve whilst in the Holy Land. Personally, I’m really looking forward to beginning to understand what the daily reality is like in the birthplace of three major religions. I’m also excited by the prospect of witnessing how CAFOD is working with young people from Israel and Palestine. It is these young people that I know will inspire me so that on my return to Newman University I can share the individual and honest portrayals of the people I will encounter.


Juliette, Caroline, Sharon and Kezia preparing for their visit to the Holy Land.

The prospect of being fully immersed into different cultures is another exciting prospect for me as through studying Human Geography I have developed a passion for spaces of encounter and attitudes towards difference. Therefore, I’m excited to uncover how my experiences differ from the experiences of the young people I meet whilst overseas. I know this will be a great opportunity to understand the work of CAFOD first hand so I can genuinely develop connections with those I meet in the Holy Land and afterwards those I will then engage with in Birmingham.


Caroline discussing the Step into the Gap programme and engaging with Newman University students.

With personal preparation well underway, which has included lots of reading and working out how I can possibly fit everything in one large backpack. Thankfully for Christmas I’ve asked for fantastic fish and a happy queen bee from the CAFOD World Gifts range so the delightful gift cards will definitely fit in my bag! Make sure you check out the website to explore the range and find your perfect Christmas present!

I have also started preparation with students at Newman University. At Newman, we have been discussing where CAFOD works across the world and writing messages of hope and prayers of peace. Within the Archdiocese of Birmingham, I have also had the opportunity to discuss with CAFOD supporters the range of projects CAFOD supports and CAFOD’s latest climate and energy campaign.


Caroline discussing the need to care for our creation with parishioners from Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Redditch.

As I continue to prepare I ask you to please pray for me and the other Gap Year Volunteers as we work to put our faith in action and encourage others to do so through our work.  If this experience sounds like something you’d be interested in, applications for Step into the Gap are now open. I look forward to keeping you up to date with my experiences in the Holy Land and the rest of my year with CAFOD.

Catholic Leamington Church’s Live Simply Celebration Mass

On Sunday 4 November, the three Churches of Catholic Leamington held a Live Simply celebration Mass at Our Lady’s Church, Lillington.


‘Hand in Hand’ prayer group’s musical reflection

Jenny, a member of the parish’s Live Simply team shares:

‘The three Churches of Catholic Leamington (St Peter’s, St Joseph’s and Our Lady’s )  held a Live Simply Mass in the beautiful Our Lady’s Church in Lillington on 18 November.    We were thinking in particular of the church’s work ‘living in solidarity with the poor’ , bringing gifts to the altar to celebrate the giving that happens and the support of  local needs – refugees, families in need, food bank, night shelters- as well as those in many corners of the world where there is need and hunger.  Kindaid, St Peter’s Aid to the Needy, St Joseph’s Justice and Peace group and SVP all brought gifts as symbols of their love and concern. Our prayers were for this work in particular. We were moved by the ‘Hand in Hand’ prayer group giving a musical  reflection to the beautiful words of ‘Christ be our Light’. We all sang heartily to the last hymn ‘ When I needed a neighbour –where you there?’ ‘

We were delighted that the parish took this lovely occassion to celebrate their ongoing commitment to living simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor. Read more about starting your parish or school’s own Live Simply journey here .

Im 1The moving collection of offertory gifts processed to the altar. These gifts represent the way the three Churches are working together to live in solidarity with the poor. Do see the parish’s Live Simply team’s lovely  explanation of the gifts below:

St Joseph’s Parish –    supports the ‘Purple Fund’   – a charity who supports those who used to live on rubbish dumps in the Philippines. The ring pulls from drink cans are sent  and from those jewellery and wallets are made like the one above.

St Peter’s Aid to the Needy  –   brought their SPAN Prayer  –  which represents their vision of our world as our love would make it – a world where the weak are protected and none goes hungry or poor. This inspires SPAN to help many far and near.

Kindaid  –  brought their gifts showing the work of fundraising which raises money for many local and international causes in different parts of the world –they encourage the Parish to have fun together at the same time.

The Saint Vincent de Paul Society  brought gifts to represent the practical work they do – a sleeping bag to help the homeless, food for the food bank and items for the Refugee Centre.

There is also a T shirt to represent the work linking the children in a local school with those in a Refugee Camp in Iraq.

The soft toy represents the three Churches working together on the Toy appeal for Christmas for families in need locally.

St Joseph’s Thame have a simple soup lunch

The CAFOD group at St Joseph Thame have been amazing in support Fast day and this Harvest fast day was no exception.  Parish volunteer Theresa Buchanan writes:

“We had a small but very enjoyable Harvest Fast lunch at St. Joseph’s on 5 October, raising £100 for CAFOD. The small number gave us all time to sit together and talk, partly about CAFOD and the up-coming events, but also getting to know each other a little better and build community.  There were fourteen adults and two children.

As it was first Friday we had Exposition at St. Joseph’s and we were able to feed some of those who were in church when they took a break.


This time we limited our selection to three types of soup, catering for gluten-free and dairy-free needs, just in case. We had leek and potato, lentil with carrot, and broccoli soups with rolls or crusty bread and some tiny satsumas. The jugs in the photograph contain tap water, but don’t they make it look like a special meal?”

Thank you to all who organised the soup lunch and to those who attended and contributed to it. The money will go to help those most in need

> It is still not too late to donate. Click here.