Saint Aidan’s and Our Lady’s “share the journey” through the beautiful Chess Valley

On Sunday 17 June, in response to the Holy Father’s call to “Share the Journey” in solidarity with migrants and refugees, parishioners from St Aidan’s in Little Chalfont and Our Lady’s in Chesham Bois enjoyed a five mile walk through the beautiful Chess Valley.

Setting off on the Share the Journey walk

Fr Ken Payne – Parish priest of St Aidan’s, was there to see the walkers off and was also there to welcome them back.  Thanks Fr Ken!

Fr Andy Sharing in the Journey

It was great that parish priest of Our Lady’s, Father Andy Ollard, was able to join in the walk.  He led the group with an inspiring prayer and all experienced the power of walking together, sharing prayers and stories.

Everybody felt that the simplicity of a walk done in solidarity with so many others in CAFOD represents a strong message to world leaders to take decisive steps to protect the rights of people on the move.

After  the walk, the group completed messages to the PM urging her to use her influence at the two forthcoming global compacts on refugee and migration in September and December to develop a coordinated global response to migration that recognises and protects the dignity of people on the move, supports migrants and host countries, and tackles the root causes of displacement.

>> You can sign the petition too!

The event ended, as it is now tradition, around a table covered with delicious finger food, which everybody was only too happy to indulge in. A great way to restore the body and continue “sharing the journey”.

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A special thanks goes to Santi, our wonderful CAFOD Volunteer, for coordinating the walk on the day.

>>  You can find out more about CAFOD’s Share the Journey campaign here.

More miles added to the Share the Journey campaign

On Saturday 16 June, a group of CAFOD supporters from St Teresa’s Parish in Princes Risborough completed a 5.5 miles walk through the gentle hills of the beautiful Chilterns countryside. The group were mostly parishioners from St Teresa’s.

Group setting off for the Share the Journey walk in solidarity with refugees and migrants

It was wonderful to have some of its younger members and Christians from other local churches invited through Churches Together.  They have clocked 77 miles into the totaliser.

Share the Journey

The route, chosen to maximise outreach, took the group through the centre of town, then out into the countryside and back into town again. The troop was spearheaded by the Lampedusa cross – a symbol of solidarity with refugees – and banners to enable pedestrian and motorists to note the aim of the walk  ie to “Share the Journey” in solidarity with those on the move.

During the walk, three reflections were read from the refugee petition cards. One was read by 14 year-old Benedict about a Syrian refugee. A second reflection was read by one of the parishioners from St Teresa’s about a refugee from Sudan, and the last one was read by a member of the Baptist Church about a refugee from Myanmar. The walk finished with a prayer for refugees, and a restorative feast of jam and custard doughnuts. chocolate biscuits, shortbread, and tea and coffee welcomed the group back at the church as a well deserved reward for safely completing the walk.

Share the Journey” is CAFOD’s campaign that responds to Pope Francis’ exortation to show solidarity with refugees and migrants.  As he writes in Laudato Si, “Every stranger who knocks at our door is an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age.”

If you want to learn more about Share the Journey or organise a walk in your parish or local area please get in touch with us or check out CAFOD’s Share the Journey Resources.

 

Volunteer week – Celebrating our wonderful volunteers

CAFOD has many marvellous volunteers and one such person is Marie Pennell from the parish of St Teresa – Princes Risborough.

Marie Pennell – Parish volunteer, campaigner, Mp correspondent and Events organiser

Marie has been a volunteer here since 2002 and is the driving force behind the wonderful CAFOD group there.  She has been raising awareness of CAFOD’s work not only in her parish but in the wider community by campaigning in marches and sharing her experiences at supporters’ meetings.

Marie explains about CAFOD’s campaign

Tea and cake after Sponsored walk

In her parish, Marie is also an event organiser with her group. They organises regular CAFOD meetings, of which she has taken the role of being the chairperson many times.  Through these meetings they have done so much to support and promote the work of CAFOD in the parish and school.

Marie Pennell on a sponsored walk

Marie and the group have been the force behind the 3 annual fundraisers. These have  included an Easter sponsored walk opened to all ages (known to have reached 10k!), a summer BBQ and a Christmas fair (of which half of the proceeds go towards CAFOD).  The variety and timing of these events have not only made them very popular and well attended but made fundraising an accessible and enjoyable event.

Marie’s efforts are important within her parish and to us, as this melding together of social and educational events helps to raise awareness of CAFOD’s message. Many members of the CAFOD group have said that Marie is the “driving force who encourages and motivates us to carry out events in the parish”.

 

When asked why Marie became a parish volunteer she replied, “CAFOD represents the catholic church and has a good reputation abroad. Stretching our hands across the ocean to help our fellow communities is the least we can do.”  What a brilliant ethos!  Marie added, “CAFOD is very conscientious about spending, therefore, most of the donations go directly towards the cause to make a difference.  We trust CAFOD”.

The two fast days and emergency appeals are so well planned by Marie, the CAFOD group and their parish priest so that all have a chance of participating fully in them. For Fast days, Marie together with their parish priest ensure, where possible, someone gives the short talk so that all are thanked for their generosity and hear more about CAFOD’s work.  Envelopes are also handed out by others to encourage Gift Aid.  She has also used CAFOD’s prayers in the parish like the stations of the cross.  The parish always responds so amazingly!

Marie and the group reflecting on the Year of mercy with the Lampedusa Cross

Marie uses every opportunity she gets to encourage others (whether in her parish or not) to volunteer or participate in events or Fast Day. She is brilliant at this and her personality and smile has attracted many.  For supporters’ days held twice a year in the Northampton diocese, Marie urges people to attend and even drives some of them to the venue.  Now this is a really useful effort of Marie as through these meetings, people get a chance to hear more about CAFOD’s work, get inspired and share their experiences for the benefit of many.

Marie campaigning in London

Marie campaigning with other parishioners

As a great campaigner and an MP correspondent, Marie keeps up with relevant political issues and writes regularly to her MP on issues raised by CAFOD. She has encouraged many others to sign up to be MP correspondents as well and when an opportunity arises e.g. the Power to Be campaign, she invited her MP to come and meet the parishioners and hear more about their concerns. She is often seen at marches showing solidarity for our brothers and sisters living in poverty.  Her parish is now a Fairtrade parish as well.  Wonderful!

Parish obtaining Fairtrade status

Marie told us that her future plans are to incorporate more news from partners into her parish and to discuss campaign issue in more depth with the CAFOD group so that they can see how best to encourage others to campaign as well. Through these, she hopes to keep CAFOD’s work integrated into the life of the Church with both prayer and action and hopes that others will join the CAFOD group to put their faith into action.

Thank you Marie for being such an inspiring volunteer. We are very grateful to you for giving of yourself: your time, talents and skills to support CAFOD’s work for over 15 years.  You are a real inspiration!

Written by Isabelle – Media’s volunteer