Bishop Parker Pupils are Energised by the `Power to be’

During the year pupils at Bishop Parker School (Milton Keynes) have responded to Pope Francis’ invitation in his letter to everyone – Laudato Si’ to live wisely, think deeply and to love generously in protecting the world that God has entrusted to us all.  Pupils have been thinking about how they can live more simply and, in school, have been trying to :

  1. Be less wasteful with paper and recycling more
  2. Reduce water usage – turning taps off when not needed
  3. Reduce electricity usage – switching off lights when not in use.

Cathy explains the impact of climate change at Bishop Parker School

CAFOD schools’ volunteer Cathy Stormonth delivered two Key stage 2 assemblies about CAFOD’s latest campaign ‘Power to be’.  She explained how a Kenyan village came to life and flourished all because they had electricity generated by solar panels.

Year 5 pupils construct their sunray display

Students felt it was unfair that 1 in 6 people in our world don’t have access to electricity! The effect of this is that children are not always able to have a good education as they are dependent on day light to study and can’t realise their dreams and ambitions.

Cathy encouraged the students to be ‘lobbyists’ and to write persuasive messages to Melanie Robinson (the UK’s representative at the World Bank) to spend more of their energy budget on safe, renewable energy which tackles poverty, so everyone can have the chance to fulfil their God-given potential.

>> send a petition to the World Bank

Yr 6 pupils reflect on their messages to the World Bank

In the subsequent workshop, Year 5 and 6 pupils were shown the Laudato Si video clip which has the global statistics about the impact of climate change. Pupils were very concerned to know how the poorest people on earth who live on less than 70p per day are the most vulnerable.  If sea levels rise in the next 20 years with the increase in global temperature then almost 200 million people in low lying island communities are at risk.  One Y5 pupil said ‘We have to do something about this now’

In the Year 3 and 4 workshops pupils were shown a CAFOD film clip on Climate Change and how the increase in its effects have happened through global industrialisation and the burning of fossil fuels.  We discussed how the UK has experienced extreme weather changes in recent years and how flooding, droughts and the rise in global temperature are affecting us all.

Year 3 power to be display

Year 4 construct their Sun ray Display

Pupils constructed their giant sun displays with a superb range of comments about their feelings about the unfairness of people living in poverty not having access to electricity. They wrote many messages to the British representative at the World Bank to reconsider raising the financial aid budget for using renewable and sustainable energy sources – especially solar power. Each of the 4 year group workshops ended with a reflection and a prayer.

Assistant head teacher, Mrs Jane Shone, reported later how pupils were struck by some of the stark messages and statistics delivered. She said ‘it was a very thought provoking activity for the children. They are very keen to try and change things now.’

>> To find out more about the campaign and to sign the petition, go to our website

A big thanks to Bishop Parker for having CAFOD in to share with the students who were really impassioned to act. Thanks also to our education volunteer Cathy who did a fab job in raising awareness of the plight of those living in poverty.

If you are interested in being a schools’ volunteer please get in touch


Time for Time Out – Retreat at Woburn Sands

Proclaim the Mercy of God – Beating Heart of the Gospel

Proclaim the Mercy of God retreat

Proclaim the Mercy of God retreat

As the Year of Mercy draws to a close, CAFOD held a retreat at St Mary’s Woburn Sands which explored how each of us can continue to live out Pope Francis’ call to be “witnesses of mercy” in our families, communities and in our world. Twenty-two people from all over the diocese attended the day. From Aston-le-Wall (west-most part of the diocese – north) to Biggleswade (east-most of the diocese) down to Princes Risborough (south of the diocese). A great turn out! The retreat gave all a chance to reflect and take action in light of the Year of Mercy.

Deborah Purfield (CAFOD Coordinator – Northampton Diocese) said, “The retreat is an opportunity for people to be refreshed and sustained, to allow some time out from everyday life to reflect on our own faith journey in the company of other CAFOD supporters and in the peaceful surroundings of St Mary’s.”

Retreat day at Woburn Sands

Retreat day at Woburn Sands

The day was led by Sarah Hagger-Holt from CAFOD’s campaign team. We explored and pondered Scripture, using the passage of the prodigal son, and Pope Francis’ documents – Laudato Si’ and Amoris Laetitia.  Pope Francis mentioned about the “apostolate of the ear”  and following this we were given lots of opportunity to listen and learn from each other’s experiences and be inspired and enriched by stories from CAFOD’s campaigning and work overseas.

Sharing experiences with others

Sharing experiences with others

Sarah explained how Pope Francis is doing a lot to promote the cause of refugees, including visiting Lampedusa, where so many migrants washed up on European shores. But the world was slow to act.

Send refugees a message of hope

Instead of asking us, “what do you think you’re doing?” Pope Francis asks us a more profound question: “who do you think you are?” This opens up a whole new way of seeing the world and taps directly into the heart of his encyclical, Laudato Si’.

The world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others… Let us not only keep the poor of the future in mind, but also today’s poor, whose life on this earth is brief and who cannot keep on waiting.’     –  Pope Francis

Instead of ‘empty activism’, our work is founded on time out and reflection. We are invited to start from a place of contemplation and move into action. So finding a solution to the refugee crisis is no longer only a tough political problem to be solved. Instead, it is a moral problem of how to treat our sisters and brothers.

Likewise, tackling climate change isn’t only about finding technical scientific solutions, it’s about “simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness” in which we can all participate.

Play your part to reduce your carbon footprint

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We were invited to choose from a selection of photos one that made an impact on us and then meditate on it before sharing our thoughts with others.

In our busy lives, we’re always on the go – kids, work,etc..  It is non-stop. Pope Francis made up a word for this, “rapidification”. We were invited to explore how we can each say no to rapidification in our lives.

There was time for personal reflection after this and people wandered around the peaceful grounds and church. Aideen from Northampton said, “It was great to have this time to contemplate my life in the light of what we had heard. I felt very uplifted and challenged.”

The shared lunch which followed was so welcomed as people came in out of the cold. Having nourished their minds, they were delighted to nourish their bodies too. There was a wonderful buzz in the room as people shared their thoughts with each other over lunch.


What is Mercy?


Sharing what Mercy is

The afternoon session further developed the idea of Mercy and the feedback was amazing. There was recitation and quotes from Shakespeare as well as sharing thoughts and personal experience of what Mercy is. How true that “Heaven kisses earth when mercy seasons justice”.

Harry from Sacred Heart said, “It was great to meet so many new people and to be able to pray and reflect with them. I really enjoyed the day.”

Thanks to St Mary’s Woburn Sands for hosting the event.  This is the first time but certainly not the last for holding a CAFOD event here. It was a great!

Visit our website to find other such events around the country.