Introducing Deborah Purfield
After Frank retired in 2013, Deborah Purfield stepped into the role a few months later. Deborah was working for the NHS and was a CAFOD volunteer in the Westminster diocese before taking on the role.
Being the CAFOD diocesan manager was a lovely challenge and it was wonderful to meet supporters and volunteers across the diocese. It took me a while to get to know the parishes, priests and volunteers. Like Frank, I had great support from Bishop Peter and am the envy of a lot of other diocesan staff who don’t get the privilege of meeting up with their bishop as regularly.
After a year in post, we had to move the office from Northampton to Princes Risborough as St Gregory Primary needed the space back. Thanks to the diocese, we were offered a wonderful location next to St Teresa’s church and school.
When I held my first supporter day over 30 people turned up which, I was told, was amazing. Since then, I have offered two supporter days at each fast day. These are held in the north and south of the diocese so more people can attend. We now have about 60 people attending which is fabulous! We have also started holding an annual day of reflection which has proven to be so invigorating for people. The number of parishes with at least one volunteer and with a CAFOD group has also increased tremendously which I am delighted with!
We are also able to offer all catholic schools in our diocese a visit from our education volunteer team which is really terrific. CAFOD’s work has further been promoted at meetings such as with the deacons, pastoral area councils, council of priests, NORES, the Catenians and the catholic women’s league who have all been so supportive.
In November 2014, we launched the ‘One Climate, One World’ campaign in our diocese and it was a great success. It was held at St Paul’s school in Milton Keynes and members from the campaigns team spoke. People from local parishes joined with people outside the Catholic Church, from the local community, so they could unite on the issue of climate change. Bishop Peter supported the event too.
Over the next few months, I was astonished by how many events were organised by the volunteers. We have had volunteers as young as 8 years old who have wanted to contribute to CAFOD’s work which has been so inspiring.
Seeing how the Holy Spirit works is so incredible. In this post, I have seen it time and time again. One of my most memorable moments was when I was about a month into the role and was told I was the “key note speaker” at a Lenten service 10mins before having to give the key note. As I was still finding my way and didn’t have a clue what to say I had to rely totally on the Holy Spirit and Bl. Oscar Romero (as it was his story I ended up telling). I was told after the service that it was such a good talk and that I must have “spent a long time preparing for it”!
In all my years of working, this has been the job I have enjoyed the most. I am continually inspired and amazed by the faith and action of so many of our wonderful volunteers and supporters and feel so blessed to be in this role.
In these past 10 years CAFOD in Northampton has seen many changes, but supporters and volunteers have always been there to support CAFOD’s work. We would like to say huge thank you and to celebrate not only the past decade, but all the many years to come.
If you would like to learn more about volunteering in the Northampton Diocese, you can contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org