What will you give up for Lent?

The Holy Communion group at St Teresa Beaconsfield & St Dunstan Bourne End has been reflecting on what they could give up this Lent to be closer to God.  Christine Murray, one of the catechists writes :

Our candidates for First Holy Communion meet monthly on a Saturday. Our February session was an ideal time to talk about the meaning of Lent, Prayer, Fasting and Alms Giving.  As CAFOD is our charity this year, we decided to use some of the amazing resources available on the website.

First Communion children hear about CAFOD’s “Give it up” challenge

At the session, we spoke about the meaning of Lent, in the context of Christ’s temptations and his forty days fast. The children were very knowledgeable  and there was a lively discussion about fasting; they said they would feel hungry and thirsty and even that they “might die at any second’!”. One of the older boys (9) told the group in no uncertain terms that “you would definitely die if you didn’t have water for a week!” After some reassuring remarks we went on to think about Jesus’ sacrifice for us all, in the Wilderness and on the Cross.

First communion children watch CAFOD’s video for Lent Fast Day on Zimbabwe

We then showed the CAFOD film about Svondo’s story; the children were fascinated and realised how blessed they were. One of them spoke about how people were starving in Africa. Another child’s family who was already collecting for another charity and were enthusiastic about fundraising for CAFOD, too.

>> See here for more fundraising ideas

The children thought about the “Give it Up” campaign with suggestions such as giving up their favourites treats. Some children said they tried last year but found it hard and could not keep it up.  Others thought they could give up bread sticks, Brussels sprouts and school!  The afternoon became serious with discussions as to whether or not it was possible to give up computer games. The prospect of such sacrifices did indeed mean something to them.

We felt it was important to help the children consider some more positive sacrifices: helping others, clearing up their toys, or just being kind to someone they don’t particularly like.  Raising money can happen if they know how much they can put towards a cause by not buying that chocolate bar, or by getting payment for good deeds.

We encouraged the children to raise money for CAFOD during Lent and they know that the UK government will match their donations.  The session finished with the children decorating their Alms boxes with enthusiasm. We shall see them again next month and continue to encourage them through their Lenten journey.

Great to hear all you are up to St Teresa and St Dunstan.  We look forward to hearing how you get on during Lent.

>>  Click here for prayer resources for Lent 

Lent Supporters’ Day – St Mary’s Woburn Sands

We were delighted to hold our second Supporters’ day in the north of the diocese at St Mary’s Woburn Sands.  Nearly 40 people from 18 parishes attended the day.  It was great to see familiar faces again and we were delighted to welcome some new people too.

Lent 2017 Supporters’ day – Woburn Sands

Deborah Purfield (CAFOD coordinator) welcomed everyone and shared her experience of El Salvador and CAFOD’s work there. This really went down well as people were pleased to hear how donations were used to help build the community and empower them.

Gabriel Abrahams delivers the workshop

Gabriel Abrahams (Parish Volunteer – St Thomas More Towcester) led the group in a workshop which enabled people to see some of the decisions CAFOD faces, in collaboration with our overseas partners, in spending our money. The group to decide how to spend £10,000 given six different projects.  This provoked a lot of discussion and each group fed back with what projects they would support.

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This Lent, the focus is on CAFOD’s work in Zimbabwe and Clive Gallagher (schools volunteer) presented some facts about the country.  All were shocked to hear that 70% of Zimbabweans live in poverty and that the unemployment rate has been estimated at 95%!  1 in 3 Zimbabweans are undernourished. CAFOD is working with the local Catholic Church, through Caritas partners in Zimbabwe to tackle hunger and malnutrition.

Clive Gallagher shares the CAFOD Lent Fast Day story

Clive shared Svondo’s story and most people were inspired by the video and could see what difference our support had made.

The day ended with a shared lunch and it was really lovely to have time to chat with people and share experiences.

Thank you so much to St Mary’s who hosted the event and to all who attended.

>> For more information about Lent 2017 Fast day, visit our website

CAFOD meets the Holy Ghost Confirmation group

On  Saturday 13 January a group of young Confirmation candidates from Holy Ghost Parish, Luton, spent the morning with one of our CAFOD Education volunteers, Kate Banville, who introduced them to CAFOD’s work.

Holy Ghost Confirmation Group 2018

The group, ranging from 12 to 18 years old, had taken part in a pilgrimage to reflect on the experiences of refugees and therefore were particularly sensitive to the work CAFOD carries out in this area. Some of the statistics presented by Kate certainly hit home – one of the group leaders was floored after learning that more than 3000 people have died on refugee boats in the last few years.

The group also had the opportunity to welcome the Lampedusa Cross from Northampton Cathedral and wrote heartfelt messages of hope to be distributed to refugees around the world.


The morning ended with a briefing on CAFOD’s Lent campaign, this year under the motto ‘Give it Up’, and brainstorming ideas for fundraising within their group and parish as this Lent all donations will be matched funded by the UK government up to £5m

>> Find out more about resources and fundraising ideas for Lent 2018