CAFOD at St Bede’s and St Joseph’s Catholic College, Bradford

Researched and written by Matty Maslen, CAFOD volunteer

CAFOD Leeds’ very own ex-gapper Madeline Woods is now the Chaplain for St Bede’s and St Joseph’s Catholic College (SBSJ), Bradford. SBSJ is one of the biggest Catholic school in the country.

madeline in ufganda

Madeline, third from left, pictured with fellow gappers visiting CAFOD partners in Uganda in 2019 as part of the Step into the Gap programme

 Although she is still new to the post, Madeline has already managed to start a CAFOD group at the school. It currently has four members from Year 8, with more showing interest in joining. It formed quite spontaneously while on a trip to Revelation where the students talked to Madeline about their passion for the work of CAFOD especially around climate change and social justice.

 SBSJ’s newly formed group are hoping to help the school achieve CAFOD’s livesimply award. This is awarded to communities who are able to show they have been living simply, in solidarity with people in poverty and sustainably with creation. In order to be granted the award, Madeline has been working to make the CAFOD group a space that will tap into the pupils’ desire to make the world a better place. The group is intended to help turn the members’ passion into action.

 During this season of Lent, Madeline put up CAFOD Lent calendars in each form room in the school to encourage the students to pray, fast and give. She also sent out an SBSJ Chaplaincy newsletter before schools closed as part of the Covid-19 lockdown in March. The newsletter featured CAFOD and provided links to online resources for the students to access.

            Although Chaplains are not classed as key workers, since schools were closed Madeline has been keeping busy. It is important to remember that it is not only the academic aspect of school life that has been disrupted by this pandemic. As she said: We know that the job we do is essential in helping young people to practise their faith through this time.

To help her school community through this strange time, she has been sending out prayer slides to all staff and students, and is currently creating a guide to the Bible for the students. The work that Chaplains around the world have been doing during this time when so many people are unable to access a Church is important to help people continue to feel connected both to their faith and to the wider family of the Church. Let us all remember that, as Madeline said: “There are many ways that we can live our faith in this difficult time”.

If you would like to see a video of some of the work Madeline has been doing at SBSJ then please click on the link below:

Stepping into Cambodia

Earlier this year, five young adults from CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme were transformed when they travelled to Cambodia to see the work of CAFOD and its partners first hand.Cambodia promo 2020 STIG pic b

Hugh, Daisy, Francis, Orla and Rebecca saw the work of two CAFOD partners, Cambodian Organisation for Children’s Development (COCD) and Karuna Battambang Organisation (KBO). Inspired by some remarkable people, Orla shared that “the happiness and joy of the people has been undeniably infectious, making each encounter as beautiful as the next.” They visited a variety of agricultural projects such as chicken rearing and vegetable farming as well as Water and Sanitation projects. One project was focussed on accessing toilets safely where people wouldn’t have to journey into the jungle, another project taught school children how to wash their hands. Now back in the UK, in the face of COVID-19, it has become even more clear how important and life saving projects like these can be.

Cambodia Promo 2020 STIG pic c

“Going to Cambodia was really life changing for me, I saw how the Catholic community of England and Wales, by supporting the work of CAFOD, does really make a difference to so many people’s lives around the world.” Hugh Cafferky, current participant of Step into the Gap. “We were so blessed to be able to spend time with the communities that CAFOD works with and to learn about their lives as well as the difference chicken rearing and other projects can make.”

As well as this 3 week visit to CAFOD’s partners, the gappers spend their year in placements including youth retreat centres, university and school chaplaincies where they develop leadership skills and share their passion for social justice with the wider community. It offers young adults between 18 and 30, the opportunity to gain new experience and inspire a generation of people to act for the poorest and most marginalised.

Cambodia promo 2020 STIG

Now back in the UK, the gappers were hoping to return to their placements and share the stories and lessons they learnt in Cambodia but with the lock down, the gappers are coming up with alternative ways to share about their experience! Two of the participants would love you to join their interactive webinar: Cambodia and Step into the Gap on 30th April. You can register close to the time on CAFOD’s website

There are still placements available for September, so if you are between 18-30 and want to inspire others to create a fairer and more just world, then visit As part of the programme you will have the opportunity to see the work of CAFOD first hand for 3 weeks and spend the year in one of our UK placements.

A Modern Lenten Appeal in Skipton

Researched and written by Matty Maslen, CAFOD volunteer

St Stephen’s Parish, Skipton, took a leap of faith into the modern world for their Lenten Appeal this year. The Parish used a contactless fundraising machine to collect donations and found it a great success.

Sheila Gregory profile pic 2020

Sheila Gregory, CAFOD Parish Volunteer, St Stephen’s Skipton

The Lenten spirit of Almsgiving was captured and magnified by the machine. This was especially the case with visitors to the Parish. The machine was especially effective at encouraging visitors to be generous in donations.

St Stephen’s Parishioners welcomed the new technology after it was introduced to them by Sheila Gregory who said: If you want to pay with blips in the data sphere instead of cash I can help you with that!”. This

Although in lent we are encouraged to reflect both on the sufferings and sacrifices of Jesus, but also to look forward. We are told during this time to prepare the way for the Lord, to embrace change for the better – and St Stephen’s have done just this. (The next change is to ensure the government attach gift aid to these contactless donations made – which is not currently the case!)

Contactless machine Lent Appeal 2020

The generous donations of CAFOD supporters throughout the year, but especially during Lent, are felt throughout the world’s most in-need communities. St Stephen’s has demonstrated how embracing new ideas can help us to feel connected to these communities overseas and to each other.

As Sheila said: For me it is SO important never to forget the suffering and travails of our family in the developing world- especially as I sit here in comfort!”.


For more information about contactless giving, please get in touch by email