Making a Difference in Schools

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Pete McCann – Education Volunteer Coordinator, CAFOD Birmingham 

Pete responded to an appeal for volunteers made in 2014 at his parish church, Holy Cross and St Francis in Walmley, Sutton Coldfield.  His background in education made him ideal for the new role of Education Volunteer Coordinator and Pete has really developed and expanded this role over the past three years. He works from our Volunteer Centre once a week and his focus is to promote our team of school volunteers to schools across the diocese and support them in arranging visits to do assemblies and workshops.

Pete contacts schools each term to promote our school volunteers and invite them to take up our offer of an assembly or workshop to hear more about our work.  He is very organised and his great gift for communicating our work to schools has made a huge difference to the numbers of visits that now take place each term.


Pete also supports us in recruiting new volunteers and managing our existing team. He plays a significant role in helping us to organise our termly ‘Refresher’ training days and presents an update on how our school volunteer programme is progressing. He is great at analysing our school visit statistics and presenting them in a very positive and accessible way. He is also known for his lovely homemade soups which he often brings to share at our meetings!

As well as being kept very busy with his coordinating role Pete also finds time to occasionally visit schools as well. He is a very talented musician and always tries to incorporate music into his visits when he can, which always goes down well with pupils.

Pete explained why he wanted to volunteer for CAFOD and what motivates him:

‘I was due to retire from my job and saw it as a great opportunity to be involved in educating children and young people on issues of global justice. After a career as a special educator and many years as a school governor at Bishop Walsh Catholic School, here was a chance to help with co-ordinating CAFOD’s education programme, enabling me to support the Catholic mission of our schools and other supporters, more widely.’

‘I feel fortunate to have had such an inspirational and effective team to work alongside, both at the Volunteer Centre and ‘out in the field’. My experience of seeing at first hand the enthusiasm and energy of children, young people, school staff and parents in engaging with CAFOD’s messages has been a source of great joy over the past three years!’

We are very grateful to Pete for all his support. His enthusiasm, his good humour and his commitment to CAFOD is inspiring and is helping to bring CAFOD’s work to an increasing number of young people across our diocese. Thank you for being such a great colleague and member of our team Pete.

Find out how you can join our team of volunteers

CAFOD visits the oratory Prep School in Reading

Cathy Carr, Education Volunteer, gives a Lent Assembly at the Oratory Prep School (Reading)

On Friday 2 February, the Oratory Prep School in Reading had a visit for the first time from our Education volunteer Cathy Carr.  Cathy gave an assembly to Year 3 and 4 and students heard how at CAFOD we believe in a better world, where no one lives in poverty and each of us can become the best person we can be. To be in a world without poverty, where people have clean, safe water to drink and enough food to eat.  Where everyone has a safe home, children can go to school and anyone who is sick can visit a doctor or nurse.

Cathy introduced them to 7 yr old Svondo from Zimbabwe and explained how around the world malnutrition stops some children from being able to play. Malnutrition is when you don’t have the right nutrients to be healthy (for younger children, you could replace the word nutrients with “vitamins and goodness in food”). This can happen when people do not have enough food to eat. It stops children from having enough energy to play.

Some great ideas for Lent


The students learnt where some of the money raised went to and were given ideas on how they could help through prayer, fasting and giving.

>> For more great fundraising ideas, visit our website


Year 3 also spent an hour with Cathy afterwards taking part in a workshop based around the Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si’– written to every person on the planet.  It linked beautifully with the work the children have been doing on environmental issues in PSHE and provided great food for thought for all involved.

Mrs Emily Reed (Head of RE) was wonderful in welcoming CAFOD into the school and said, “This was a great session. We would love to have CAFOD back in the Autumn Term to deliver the Harvest assembly and we would fundraise for CAFOD then.”

Thank you to Oratory Prep School for inviting CAFOD in and to Cathy Carr for delivering such a great assembly and workshop.


Celebrating Oscar Romero

Phil MSchool Volunteer Phil Mayland reflects on his visit to St John Fisher Catholic College, Newcastle under Lyme to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero.

St John Fisher Catholic College, Newcastle under Lyme, held a Mission Day on Thursday 20th July, to study and reflect on the life of Blessed Oscar Romero. Each Year Group focused on a particular aspect of Romero and El Salvador, and spent time preparing for an outdoor Mass on Friday 21st July.

The school invited visitors from CAFOD and Missio to lead students in their preparation with each year group preparing specific parts of the Mass. Jo Boyce of CJM Music rehearsed the music with the school’s musicians and practiced the singing with all the students on Thursday. I was asked to work with Year 9 students, who prepared bidding prayers inspired by the life of Blessed Oscar Romero.

RomeroOther year groups worked with the  Art, Technology and English departments in designing Romero Crosses, creating large Murals depicting Romero and El Salvador and writing prayers and poetry.

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Mass was celebrated the following day. Fr Paul McNally, the school chaplain, concelebrated Mass with Fr Rob Taylerson and Fr Anton Madej. This was a very special occasion attended by the whole school and invited guests and was a fitting and memorable way to end the academic year.

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Join us at our Retreat on 18 November in Solihull to explore how Romero’s life and faith can inspire and transform our world.