St Bernadette Primary signs up for LiveSimply award

Pope Francis, in his encyclical letter Laudato Si’ invites us all to work with generosity and tenderness in protecting the world which God has entrusted to us.

St Bernadette’s Primary School in Milton Keynes is responding to that invitation and has launched its LiveSimply action plan to work towards achieving the LiveSimply award.

The launch started with a LiveSimply assembly given by CAFOD’s education volunteer Cathy Stormonth.  Cathy explained that God calls us to look hard at our lifestyles and to choose to live more simply, sustainably and to think about how we can reach out to those living in poverty.  In this way we can help create a world in which human dignity is respected and everyone can reach their full potential.  This would be true progress and worth more than economic growth alone.

Cathy Stormonth – CAFOD education volunteer introduces LiveSimply

Cathy explained that ‘Individual actions may seem insignificant but together the small steps of many people can have an astonishing impact.’ She explained that a simple way to live sustainably was to save water by turning off the taps when brushing teeth. When asked how many did do this only about half of the pupils put their hands up.  They were told that about 5 litres of water was wasted when the tap wasn’t turned off and if 250 extra children saved 5 litres of water each time that was about 2500 litres saved each day – a lot of water!  If each student could enlist their families into this water saving method – all of a sudden there would be massive water savings in the community.

Headteacher, Mrs Jane Zamora, thought this was a good idea and asked the children to think of more ways to save water both at school and at home. The school already promotes turning off lights and saving electricity use which is great!

Living more simply? Cathy explained how being obsessed with money, designer goods, fame and the latest gadget did not bring lasting joy.  Instead she challenged the children to live more simply, appreciating simple gifts of life like a meal with family and friends, a hug, fun and laughter, good health, time to pray and reflect or simply a beautiful sunset.

St Bernadette’s School is now working towards achieving the LiveSimply Award.  So far, there are no schools or parishes in the Northampton diocese who have achieved this award.

Space for reflection and prayer

The school is focusing on the following :

  • Living simply – Developing an outdoor space for prayer and contemplation. The school has already built a stunningly beautiful prayer garden of Our Lady of Lourdes appearing to St Bernadette. This is used for prayer, quiet times and reflection.
  • Living sustainably – The school already has an allotment and is growing vegetables to use for school lunches when the vegetables are ready to harvest. The school is also saving energy and reducing the school electricity bill.
  • Being in solidarity with those living in poverty – The school charity is devoted to helping vulnerable locals. For example working with SVP on making a House a Home project for young homeless families.

Thank you very much St Bernadette for having CAFOD in to give an assembly and thanks to Cathy for raising awareness of the plight of many in our world.  The school has also invited CAFOD in the following week to give workshops on Justice issues.  It is great to hear that the school will take up the LiveSimply challenge and we look forward to hearing how they get on.


St Teresa’s Primary School hear about CAFOD’s work

St Teresa Primary – Princes Risborough invites CAFOD in for an assembly

St Teresa primary school warmly welcomed CAFOD in to give an assembly.  Ged Nolan, CAFOD’s education volunteer, started off by asking the students if they knew what CAFOD stood for and explained what CAFOD did to fight injustices and help those living in poverty overseas.

Students learn what CAFOD stands for

Ged then focused on Pope Francis’ letter Laudato Si’ – Care for our Common Home – which was written not just for Catholics but to each person on the planet.  He mentioned some ways in which within the school and at home pupils could reduce their carbon footprint, save water, recycle and reduce plastic use.

Watch this very informative and fun video on the Pope’s letter to all:

Head Teacher Mrs Roberts asks students how they can be more environmentally friendly


Head Teacher, Mrs Roberts, then shared how the school was already recycling paper and replacing plastic straws with paper ones. All very good ways of caring for the environment.  Mrs Roberts also encouraged the children to find more ways in which the school could be environmentally-friendly.


It was wonderful to see how the students, when asked if they would take this further were so keen to do so and some were already coming up with good ideas.  Ged reminded them that it was not only in school but at home also where they could adopt good practices like turning the tap off when brushing teeth.  They children were keen to share what they had learnt with their parents.

Pupils at St Teresa’s (Princes Risborough) keen to make a difference

Before leaving, Ged challenged school to undertake a LiveSimple promise and perhaps work towards attaining the LiveSimply award.  Head Teacher, Mrs Roberts was very keen for the school to be involved in this as well as carry out some fundraising later in the year.  She said, “we will be delighted to have CAFOD back for further workshops.”

Thank you so much St Teresa’s for inviting CAFOD into your lovely school.  Thanks Ged for delivering the assembly.  We look forward to hearing how you get on with the LiveSimply challenge.

The challenge of Laudato Si’ for the Latin American Church

The Northampton diocese was very fortunate to have Fr Peter Hughes give a talk at Holy Ghost Church Luton on 12 July 2017.  Fr Peter is an Irish Columban priest from County Mayo who has spent most of his life as a missionary based in Lima, Peru, working in some of the most desperately impoverished communities there.

Campaigns event with Fr Peter Hughes

Rose Bluett, Volunteer coordinator for Luton, who helped organise the event writes :

“How lovely it was for us to have Father Peter visit. His visit brought home to us Pope Francis’ message of Laudato Si’ :

We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.’ LS #139

Fr Peter talking about the indigenous people

Fr Peter who has spent many years working with the indigenous people of Peru came to understand the meaning of Living Simply. The indigenous people of Peru understand how to look after the land. They only use what they need.  If they cut down a tree, they plant another one to replace it.  Some live deep in the rainforest which is only accessible by boat.

Illustration of the destruction of the amazon

The rainforest of South America, the largest in World, provides 20% of the portable water and oxygen for the planet! However, its destruction is happening at an alarming rate!  He pointed out how incredible it is for our culture to sanction industries to mine excessively for things such as soya and palm oil and to build hydro-electric dams which cause deforestation and flooding without considering the damage they are doing to the environment and to the local people!

The planet does not belong to us. We are the caretakers. We have been entrusted by God to take care of this beautiful planet. God gives us all we need to do so.  We must work with nature not against it. We must respect our planet.

Fr Peter Hughes sharing his experience

Fr Peter praised CAFOD and all those who support CAFOD’s work saying how he had witnessed first-hand how CAFOD’s help via its partners have made such a difference to the indigenous people over the years. As governments do not seem to respect their own basic law of citizen’s rights, the rights of consulting with the indigenous people have been ignored and the people don’t have the political strength to defend themselves and their land.  CAFOD paid for legal support and enabled some local leaders to attend a meeting in Washington to voice their concerns.  This is helped significantly.”

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Alban Macdonald (Parish volunteer – Biggleswade) passionately commented, “With the total population of the Amazon being only 33 million in that vast area and the indigenous population only 3 million, we in the UK with a population of over 65 million can do something. We can and must voice our concerns to our leaders and stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters whose voices are so easily being ignored!”

Power to Be campaign

We ended the session with input from our campaigns team about the latest Power to Be campaign and encouraged all present to sign the petition which calls on the World Bank to ensure energy access for the world’s poorest people.  Parishes and schools are encouraged to add their voices and speak up for those who are kept in poverty due to lack of accessible and affordable electricity.

A big thank you to Rose for helping to organise the event, to Sarah from the campaigns team who supported the event and accompaied Fr Peter in our diocese and to Fr Peter Hughes for coming and sharing his experiences with us.

As Rose aptly put it, “Live simply and the planet will survive for many generations to come.”

>  Sign our petition