18th May Holy Name, Leeds: Climate Conversation

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Madeline Woods is a ‘Step into the Gap’ volunteer for CAFOD and this weekend she will be helping the Live Simply’ group from the parish of Our Lady of Kirkstal, to host a Climate Conversation and activities, at Holy Name Church Hall, Cookridge from 2pm – 4pm.

The Live Simply group have invited Alex Sobel MP to meet children from the local catholic primary and secondary schools as well as members of the cubs, scouts and brownies groups. Families who attend the Children’s Liturgy sessions in all three churches in the parishes have also been invited. There will be organised activities for all ages, and a discussion about how we can all act to make our daily lives less damaging to the planet.

The event is targeted at those under the age of 15 and their families who would like to know more about how they can get involved to shape communities of the future, with lowered carbon emissions, sustainable renewable energy and reduced burden on our planet’s natural resources. gappers car uganda

Madeline has recently returned from a CAFOD trip to Uganda and is keen to share her stories from her visit with the young people who will be attending.


“At this event, we will have an inter-generational discussion about how we can all act on climate change, both as individuals and collectively as a parish. Every effort we make to reduce our carbon emissions will have a positive impact for those living in the world’s poorest countries, who often feel the impact of climate change the worst.”

If you would like to attend, please email hnoffice.ourladyofkirkstall@dioceseofleeds.org.uk so we know how many people to expect.

What: Climate Conversation
Who: Alex Sobel MP Leeds North, Madeline Woods (CAFOD Gap Year Volunteer), Our lady of Kirkstal Live Simply group and parish members up to the age of 15 and their families.
Where: Holy Name Church Hall, 52 Otley Old Rd, Leeds LS16 6HW
When: Saturday 18th May, 2pm – 4pm
Why: To challenge and change the systems and structures that cause climate change, and poverty

If you are not able to attend, you can join St Urban’s parishioners on Sunday 19th May for their Creation Celebration, with guest speaker Bernard Balibuno CAFOD’s Country Representative for the Democratic Republic of Congo who will share updates on how our support to communities facing the impact of climate change makes a real difference. For more information about St Urban’s Creation Celebration please click here.

If you would like to know more about how you and your school or parish can get involved with CAFOD’s Our Common Home campaign click here.


3 ways to stand alongside our brothers and sisters affected by the conflict in Gaza

by Ben Oldham, CAFOD Diocesan Manager- Diocese of Leeds

CAFOD partners inspecting damaged land and buildings in Gaza (Photo: Caritas Jerusalem)

CAFOD partners inspecting damaged land and buildings in Gaza (Photo: Caritas Jerusalem)

Today, 100 years after the start of the First World War, the world remembers the catastrophic events of the Great War and its legacy. I would like to ask you to take action in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are living in fear and great danger because of conflict. Please take some time today to support CAFOD’s partners who are working around the clock to relieve the suffering of the men, women and children caught up in the violence in Gaza in one of the following ways;

1. Donate to our Gaza Crisis Appeal

CAFOD have committed £50,000 to support our partners Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Jerusalem in Gaza who are working around the clock to reach vulnerable Palestinian families. The on-going airstrikes are making it difficult and dangerous to deliver aid. Despite the risks, they are on the ground providing food and basic household items, as well as medical supplies to hospitals and mobile clinics.
Ameen Sabbagh, one of our partners at Caritas Jerusalem, describes conditions in Gaza in a blog post for CAFOD here.

Please donate here.

2. Join our campaign to stop the violence in Gaza
Please add your voice to those of our sisters and brothers in Gaza and call on Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond for renewed efforts towards a just and lasting peace. Join our campaign now by completing our online email petition here.

3. Pray for peace
We are asking the Catholic community to join together in praying for a swift end to the violence and long-lasting peace in Gaza.

A prayer for peace can be found here.

CAFOD at 50 . . . What lit their flame?

On Saturday 24th March Leeds CAFOD supporters enjoyed an afternoon conference celebrating fifty years of commitment by the Catholic community in England and Wales. The idea was to explore  what is at the heart of CAFOD’s vision.

Grace aged 13 and Lucy aged 11, shared how they had taken part in the Junior Great North Run for the last two years because they had been inspired to help children who didn’t have access to all that they took for granted.

Elaine Barker, a former teacher from St Joseph’s Catholic College, spoke of the inspiration of four young students, Kimi, Katie, Izzie and Megan who had won the first ‘Solutions for the Planet’ competition with their World Gift idea to help mums and babies which has now raised almost £165,000.

Peter Johnson, a long-standing volunteer in the CAFOD Leeds office described how a deepening understanding of Catholic Social Teaching had made him think more deeply about putting faith into action.

 Dr. Ann-Marie Mealey, Senior Lecturer in Ethics at Leeds Trinity University, explored the nature of spirituality, focussing on the spirituality that is at the heart of CAFOD. If our spirituality is not inviting us to ask the moral questions of our time or if it is not motivating us to engage with issues of justice then we are only giving expression to the vertical axis of the Cross and the horizontal is missing.

John Battle, a long-time Justice and Peace activist and former MP for West Leeds considered what sustains us when working for justice often seems challenging and overwhelming. For John, joining with others and tackling bit by bit that which we can do is a way forward.

He highlighted that for most of us it is the people we look up to who inspire and motivate us. John shared his admiration for the life and witness of Archbishop Romero, ending with readings from the Archbishop’s Holy Week homilies.

Chris Bain, Director of CAFOD, then shared powerful stories of people in CAFOD communities who had inspired him. CAFOD isn’t about giving a ‘hand-out’ but aims to support and enable people and communities to flourish recognising and celebrating each person’s innate dignity and potential.

Chris outlined some of the challenges facing  an agency like CAFOD, because of the external global context – financial crisis, climate change, belief in a ‘growth at all costs’ culture. The challenge is to live by our deepest values and learn to live more simply, sustainably and in solidarity with those who are poor.

Bishop John Rawsthorne, recently retired Chair of CAFOD, rounded off the afternoon with a powerful personal witness about his own journey sharing how his ministry had been shaped by involvement with CAFOD. He described travelling in El Salvador shortly after Archbishop Romero’s murder and witnessing the shocking and unbelievable violence of the country during that civil war period.

During mass in the Cathedral, Bishop John said that Archbishop Romero’s deep faith enabled him to speak truth on the part of his people who were suffering violence and oppression, even though he knew well the consequences. His life has inspired people all over the world and he lives on within the El Salvador people.

Bishop John thanked everyone for being part of CAFOD and encouraged us all to look forward to the next fifty years.  As a token of thanks from CAFOD Leeds, Bishop John was presented with a chalice that had been specially made in El Salvador.