Day of Prayer & Reflection – Billing, Northampton

A small team of parishioners from Billing and the Sacred Heart parish, Northampton got together to prepare a day of prayer to conclude the year of mercy on the 19 November. Felicity, a CAFOD volunteer writes :

Day of Prayer - Billing Northampton

Day of Prayer – Billing Northampton

We were totally unsure about the number of people who might attend. Lorraine our parish administrator produced a colourful poster and sent it to parishes within our pastoral area.  Emails were sent to remind friends and neighbours of our intending Day of prayer and we were blessed with an almost “full house” for this event with 32 participants.”


The day began with holy mass for our intentions. After refreshments there were two short talks relating to “How has the year of mercy affected us” and the Pope’s encyclical – Laudato Si ’.  We used CAFOD’s study guide for the latter which was so helpful as it invited us to reflect on some of the key themes of Laudato Si’ and to explore ways of taking action.  The 4 key themes were :

  1. Creation is a caress of God. Scripture reveals that God created the world and it is good
  2. Climate is a common good. We each have a particular responsibility to protect creation.
  3. A universal family. We are on an earthly pilgrimage together.
  4. We were made for love. We are called to respond in solidarity with our global family and all of creation.


Discussing Laudato Si'

Discussing Laudato Si’

img_2637Each group took one of these themes, discussed and summarised it onto flip chart paper, then presented their aspect to the rest of the company. This worked very well and produced a lively discussion.  We stopped for an enjoyable shared lunch and then proceeded to the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour for adoration, prayers and hymns. This enabled us all to meditate and reflect on what we had heard and discussed in the morning. After benediction and a special blessing from Fr Jerry, I concluded with a prayer from Pope Francis:

“In the silence of the cross, the uproar of weapons cease and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue and peace are spoken. I ask the Lord that we Christians and our brothers and sisters of other religions and every man and women of good will, cry out forcefully; violence and wars are never the way to peace.”

The feeling of the day was very uplifting and refreshing and all felt they benefitted from it. ”

Well done to Felicity, Fr Jerry and all who organised the day and those who attended it!If you would like to hold such sessions in your parish, please get in touch or visit our website for more prayer resources.


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.