What is CAFOD about? – St Paul’s year 8 students find out

St Paul’s School in Milton Keynes is a great supporter of CAFOD and each year group has been raising funds for the Harvest Fast last term and were very successful at raising considerable sums during Advent for CAFOD’s World Gifts. Year 8 students were keen to hear about the whole school effort to buy a large number of gifts such as the ‘super goats’ to improve the lives of families who are living in poverty and solar cells for those living without access to electricity.

Year 8 Students – St Paul’s School Milton Keynes, hear about CAFOD

Cathy Stormonth, CAFOD education volunteer, was asked to deliver a session on ‘What is CAFOD? What does CAFOD do? How does CAFOD work and where does all the money go?’ Kay Klymyszyn, Year 8 Chaplain, planned to use CAFOD education resources for the whole day and felt that it was important for students to know much more about CAFOD to set all learning activities in the wider CAFOD working context. Cathy explained to students about how CAFOD is rooted in the Catholic community as the official aid agency for the Catholic Church in England and Wales. She went on to explain how we are global neighbours and how we work with church partners such as Caritas International across 400 programmes in 40 countries worldwide reaching people and places that others can’t reach.

>> see where CAFOD works

Students were pleased to hear how CAFOD helps people help themselves and empowers communities so they are self-sustaining and can thrive.

Cathy went on to explain how CAFOD faces some of the world’s global challenges and what happens when there is a crisis – like the current Rohingya Crisis to help people fleeing from violence in Myanmar and supporting the emergency refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Cathy also talked about the importance of campaigning and how this works.

>> check out our latest campaign here

CAFOD speaks out against injustice and can influence international bodies and governments to change – to increase aid for access to clean and safe drinking water, to invest more in safe renewable energy (rather than fossil fuels) which all can access (eg solar power) and to take action for climate change. Students listened well and were able to recall many of the facts and statistics in a hilarious game of ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ CAFOD style!

St Paul’s students taking part in CAFOD activities

Students had opportunities to take part in a CAFOD Auction to investigate inequality, look at some horrifying global climate change statistics, take part in 2 sides games like ‘Would you prefer to be hungry or thirsty?’ ‘Who would you give £5 to? A Milton Keynes homeless person or a refugee?’

When students debated what motivates CAFOD the most – class groups were consistent in their importance ratings and priorities about what Jesus said. ‘Love one another as I have loved you’. They also pointed out how great the global need is to help others and felt strongly that too many people live on less than £1.40p per day in extreme poverty and how unfair this is.

By the end of the presentation students confirmed that they had learned a great deal about the work of CAFOD and what an impressive charity it is.

Thank you St Paul’s for inviting CAFOD into your school and to Cathy for delivering a really enlightening and fruitful session.

> To invite CAFOD into your school, get in touch with us northampton@cafod.org.uk


Agnes Milne receives blessing from the Pope after over 25 years of volunteering

Agnes Milne presented with a Papal Blessing for more than 25 years of volunteering for CAFOD

Long term CAFOD volunteer Agnes Milne received a Papal Blessing last Sunday 10 February in recognition of her contribution to CAFOD, championing the rights of some of the poorest communities across the world through campaigning and fundraising. The blessing certificate was presented to her by Deborah Purfield (CAFOD coordinator) and Fr Eamon Devlin (parish priest), at St Mary’s parish Dunstable.

Fr Eamon reads out the papal blessing

Agnes’ Papal Blessing

Agnes (84) has volunteered for CAFOD for over 25 years. During that time she has not only helped raise thousands of pounds but has been an MP correspondent and campaigner for CAFOD, focusing on many issues, including Third World Debt, Fairtrade, and Climate Change.

Debbie said, “I am so honoured to be here on behalf of CAFOD to thank the parish and particularly Agnes for all her years of volunteering for CAFOD.” Agnes exclaimed “I was so surprised and overwhelmed to get this blessing” adding that she felt she needed the blessing, having lost her husband, Andrew, seven months ago. Agnes dates her passion to fighting poverty back to the early 60s when she spent three years teaching in Uganda. This was at about the same time as CAFOD was founded and she has always been a supporter.

Supporters want Sainsbury’s to ditch its ‘Fairly traded’ tea

Agnes has organised petitions, displays, walks, talks and church services. She works with Christians from other churches and once got a group of people, as part of a campaign, to talk to all the jewellers in Dunstable about where their gold came from, to ensure that it was ethically mined and that the miners got a fair deal. More recently she was involved in asking Sainsbury’s not to ditch the Fairtrade mark on their own-brand tea and in organising walks within the pastoral area, in support of the refugee campaign “Share the Journey

Her husband, Andrew, joined in with Share the Journey by walking in the hospital ward during his last illness. He was thrilled to hear about the papal blessing and together with Debbie and the parish, started organising the day for Agnes. Sadly he was taken ill and couldn’t see it through. However, we know that Andrew was very much with Agnes when she received it.

Presenting the Papal Blessing to Agnes Milne

Debbie said gleefully, “together with current parish volunteer Justin Redmond, we had planned with Fr that I would be invited to say a few words before the end of mass.  I saw a very perplexed look on Agnes’ face initially.  This broke into a surprised, embarrassed and then an overwhelmed look!”  The certificate of Apostolic Blessing from Pope Francis was presented to Agnes by Fr Eamon and there was a standing ovation.

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This was followed by a small celebration after the mass where the Union of Catholic Mothers (UCM) did the refreshments and a beautifully decorated and yummy cake was given to Agnes. The Knights of St Columba presented Agnes with flowers and many people expressed their love and admiration for Agnes, and for her late husband.

Debbie added “Agnes, you are such an inspiration. You use every opportunity you can to raise awareness of the causes of poverty and always encourage others to add their voices with yours against injustices. You not only talk the talk but walk the walk. You are an amazing volunteer!  Thank you so much for all you have done and continue to do.”

Agnes Milne with daughter Louise

Some of Agnes’ five children and eleven grandchildren were there to see her receive the award. Her youngest daughter, Louise, said “we are incredibly proud of mum. She always keeps in mind the less privileged, here in Dunstable and around the world, especially in Africa. She is always thinking about what else she can do to help and how she can get other people involved too. We just wish our dad could have been with us today to see this too”

To find out more about CAFOD and campaigning, visit: cafod.org.uk/campaign