Throughout Christmas I have been getting bits of things for the upcoming trip to El Salvador and Nicaragua. Mosquito repellent, light clothing, shampoo, shower gel, torches and chargers have been going round and round in my head since the CAFOD weekend in November to prepare us for the upcoming adventure. However it has become almost second nature to talk about the destinations on the visit, security precautions and vaccinations with those who ask, having given many presentations to school children about El Salvador and Nicaragua, and what I will be doing there. This has allowed me to become familiar with CAFOD’s work in the areas as well as knowledgeable about their political history.
“As part of living sustainably, we plan to make gardens in the ground of St Mary’s and of Holy Name Churches. It would be good if you could be involved in starting these gardens.” These were the words from CAFOD volunteer Josie Liddell as she was speaking to a group of 7,8 and 9 year old cubs who meet on a Thursday evening at Holy Name Church Hall in Leeds.
Josie went on to say “We will need bug hotels and help with planting seeds” needless to say the Holy Name Cubs group who are preparing for the Faith Badge were all keen to get involved and play their part to help their parish achieve Live Simply status from CAFOD.
Michael Emly, a CAFOD volunteer and parishioner at the Assumption, Spen Lane, is supporting the Live Simply process across the three churches in the parish of Our Lady of Kirkstall which includes Holy Name, Josie’s church. Michael said “Parishioners should get involved because we believe in a God who took flesh – that means we are able to draw close to him through what we do in the humdrum of our daily lives. Moreover we need to pass the earth on to our children and grandchildren in a fit state for them to live and enjoy.”
The livesimply award is an opportunity for Catholic communities – parishes, schools, religious orders and chaplaincies – to respond to Pope Francis’ invitation in Laudato Si’ to “work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us”.
Some livesimply award communities have encouraged people to walk or cycle to church or school, install solar panels, start recycling schemes, join a climate change campaign, support Fairtrade stalls or donate to a local food bank. The award celebrates what you have already done and inspires you to do more. It helps your community to live, not just more simply, but also more fully
Bronagh Daly, works for CAFOD in the Diocese of Leeds, and is supporting parishes like Our Lady of Kirkstall to achieve the Live Simply award. Bronagh said “It is wonderful to see CAFOD volunteers reaching out to the youngest members of their parish to inspire them and support them to start the journey of caring for our local environment, grow their own food and learn new ways to minimise their impact on the earth, all whilst living in solidarity with the world’s poorest children and their families.”
Bronagh asked Michael what the reaction was within the parish, he said “We’ve had a lot of really positive feedback. Different people identify with different strands of the project but concern for our world and concern for the poor are very accessible ideas. And the genius of Pope Francis has been to show how closely the two are linked”
If you would like to know more about Live Simply get in touch with either Bronagh or Joanne in the CAFOD volunteer centre or visit the Live Simply page on the CAFOD website
“You will be amazed at the generosity of the local communities you meet. The poverty and inequality you will encounter might be hard to experience, but that is the reality you will face. It can be challenging and humbling all at the same time. Most of all you will be inspired by the families and the communities you will meet” That was the advice a parishioner and CAFOD supporter, Joe Burns gave to our Gap Year volunteer Sophie as she embarks on her overseas trip to El Salvador. Joe welcomed visitors Fidel and Julia from El Salvador to parishes in Leeds in March 2013 along with Kathy Webb from the Parish of Our Lady of Kirkstall, and later that year Joe then travelled with the Romero Trust and visited El Salvador in November 2013.
Kathy said, ” We look forward to hearing how Sophie’s trip goes. It was wonderful to meet our visitors from El Salvador when they came to our parish a few years back. It is lovely looking back through the old photographs as Sophie is preparing for her trip. We raise funds in our local church through the Connect2 El Salvador Scheme. We will make sure Sophie brings letters from our Children’s liturgy group to share with families when she arrives. It is important to let these families know they are in our prayers every week and we stand in solidarity with them as they strive to grow their own crops and lift themselves out of poverty.”
Sophie has also been encouraged by local school children who have also been learning about El Salvador and how climate change is effecting the livelihoods of farmers and communities. On a recent school visit, Sophie helped students at Roecliff Primary School to make Green Hearts and learn about Climate Change, and what they can do to challenge others to care for our common home.
“I was really impressed how much the children knew about CAFOD already and the good work our charity partners are doing in sustainable development in the Global South. It is always a pleasure to visit a school and share with children all about my gap year with CAFOD. The teachers and students are keen to know how my trip goes, so I will be thinking about them when I meet with children and their families when I am in El Salvador” Sophie added “I cant wait to tell the partners and families that I meet in El Salvador, that so many school children from the Diocese of Leeds include them in their prayers”
If you would like Sophie to come to your school or church community to share her experiences of her trip to El Salvador, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
Sophie will be speaking at Mass and in schools in March and April.
Sophie is based at Leeds Trinity University Chaplaincy 4 days per week and 1 day in the CAFOD volunteer Centre. Sophie actively encourages students at the university to pray, campaign and give as they put their faith into practice by answering the cry of the poor.
Keep an eye out for Sophie’s updates on our CAFODLeeds Facebook Page and Twitter feed.