In July 2017, Deborah Purfield (Coordinator for Oxford N&S deaneries) was invited by Fr David Hartley (parish priest – St Joseph Thame) to give a talk at all masses to inspire parishioners and give them opportunities of putting their faith into action by promoting CAFOD’s work at St Joseph’s. An amazing number of people (17 in total) came forward to volunteer from each mass which was fabulous!
Margaret Crisp organised Harvest Fast Day and did a great job in getting the group to hand out envelopes and deliver the Fast Day talk at all masses. Harvest Fast day was so well promoted thanks to the great support from Fr David and the CAFOD group! Well done everyone!
As a lot of the group members didn’t know each other (attending different masses) it was deemed a good idea for the group to get together to meet each other and to learn more about CAFOD’s work. Therese Buchanan, who agreed to take over the parish contact role from Margaret, organised the get together on 4 Nov and Deborah was invited to give the input. 12 people attend, some of whom were hadn’t signed up previously. It was great to see them get to know each other.
Deborah explained that in 1962, CAFOD was established by the Catholic Bishops of England & Wales as the official Catholic organisation for overseas development and humanitarian relief. She illustrated how CAFOD’s work was based on Gospel values, catholic social teaching and other catholic documents and explained CAFOD’s Vision, Mission and Values showing how intricately it was linked to standing alongside the poor and those living with injustice. Deborah stressed the value of partnership which was central to CAFOD’s work, empowering people to change their lives rather than being given hand-outs.
To put things into perspective, the group were given a task – to match statistics to some statements. The group were shocked to learn, for example, that 1.2 billion people (out of 7.45 billion people on earth) had no access to electricity and that 2.5 billion lacked access to a toilet (with more having access to a mobile phone than a toilet!)
There was good discussion about stewardship of resources and Fr David commented on how admin cost was needed for organisations the size of CAFOD which works in 30 countries with hundreds of projects . Many in the group also voiced similar opinions.
The group were keen to do more as a parish after hearing about the many ways people can get involved. There was a lovely buzz when Theresa asked for suggestions for the next step.
The feedback from the session was very positive as people said how they had learnt a lot more about CAFOD’s work and were inspired to do more to raise awareness. Most even took away forms to sign up to become MP correspondents to let their MPs know what they care about as this can make a big difference.
Deborah said, “I was so delighted to be able to meet the group. It was great to see some new faces too. Thank you to Theresa, Fr David and all who attended. You are such an inspiration!”