In preparation for the Lent Fast Day on 10 March, volunteers from Oxford North and South deaneries came together to hear about CAFOD’s work in Zambia. We were very kindly hosted by the parish of Our Lady help of Christians – Cowley (Oxford). The parish not only allowed us to use the lovely facilities (which all commented on) but Fr Graham even helped set and clear up. Thank you so much!
We were delighted to welcome four new volunteers since Harvest 2016, Margaret and Carmila from Sacred Heart (Blackbird Leys) , David (from Our Lady’s Cowley) and Gloria from Sacred Heart (Henley-on-Thames). These events are a wonderful opportunity for volunteers to meet, share ideas, build friendships and ask for /offer support to each other. This was clearly evident throughout the session.
Deborah Purfield, Coordinator for CAFOD in Oxford N & S deaneries, welcomed all and the day started with the group settling down to a reflective opening prayer focusing on the Beatitudes which included the six “additional” Beatitudes, put forward by Pope Francis on All Saints Day in 2016, to “ recognize and respond to new situations with fresh spiritual energy.” This was so well received that it was asked for again at the end. We were also reminded of CAFOD’s vision of a world transformed to reflect the Kingdom of God throughout the session.
An update was given on donations received from Harvest 2016 and beyond, we heard about CAFOD’s work in Zambia – this Lent Fast Day focus country. Debbie spoke enthusiastically about Sister Yvonne and the Households in Distress programme in Mbala, Zambia. The programme has helped people like Florence become self-sufficient by running their own artisanal businesses such as fish farming and bee keeping. These projects have transformed the lives of people in some the world’s poorest communities. There was discussion on how this programme reflected CAFOD’s vision so well. The short video about Florence’s fish farming was shown. Debbie mentioned the detailed video about CAFOD’s work in Zambia which gives more information about the programme.
After the break (where there was time to chat to others and share ideas) we unpacked the fast day resources and discussed how best to promote Fast day in the parish. Debbie also mentioned about promoting campaigns outside Fast Day times and encouraged all to sign up to be MP correspondents. The group seemed keen to work together and said they would try and include schools in their fundraising and campaigning activities if possible.
There is a great A-Z of fundraising ideas for Lent which seemed to interest those who wanted to do something different.
The day concluded with a reflection from Sr Yvonne and all said the fast day prayer together. A few were able to stay for a shared lunch where more discussions took place. We even had Fr Graham join us which was lovely. Gloria was so enthused and said, “I shall see if I can encourage more people to volunteer in the Goring parish too as I know people there”. What an example of evangelization!
Sandra’s (St Hugh of Lincoln Woodstock) comment seem to reflect the general feeling from the day, “it was a wonderful, knowledgeable and inspiring day. I feel enthused to do more and try different things! Thanks so much”