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


Fantastic Four – Area coordinators

We are so blessed to have four wonderful parish volunteers taking on an additional role of the area coordinator.   They will have the opportunity to work with and motivate a small group of volunteers in their various pastoral areas :

Area Coordinators for Northampton Diocese

Ged – SE Bucks, Rose – Luton and parts of Central Beds, Dinah – Bedford and Maggie – Milton Keynes

They attended a training session at the volunteer centre in Princes Risborough where they could share ideas and meet their fellow area coordinators.  Dinah said, “It is great to have met other area coordinators and hear their experiences.  The day was so helpful and useful and I feel so much more comfortable in the role now.  Knowing I have  the support not only of the Debbie (CAFOD coordinator) but also of fellow volunteers is great!”

Santi, office volunteer, also gave input at the training day introducing the group to the volunteer portal which has a wealth of resources and information.

The area coordinators left feeling enthused.  Maggie commented, “It was a great day!  I am so glad I came.  I feel inspired to go out and do more – to share CAFOD’s vision with others and I can’t wait to start.”

A massive Thank You to Ged, Dinah, Maggie and Rose for offering their time, skills and talents to deepen relationships and build new ones in their pastoral area and share CAFOD’s vision with others.  A big thanks to Santi for supporting the group by sharing his invaluable I.T skills!  You are all such an inspiration!

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>>  The Area Coordinator role is a rewarding opportunity for people with a passion for encouraging others to make a real difference.   Is this something you feel inspired to do?  If so get in touch Northampton@cafod.org.uk , 01844 274 723.

Jazz and Swing evening fundraiser in Northampton

We are delighted to feedback on the success of event that the parish of SS Francis and Therese – Northampton put on.  They were privileged to have the acclaimed Tad Newton’s Jazz Friends band for  an evening of Jazz and Swing to raise funds for two charities with CAFOD being one of them.

Parish volunteer Mark Osborne said, “The attendance was good and we are thrilled to have the amount matched by the UK government”.

The parish raised nearly £890 for CAFOD which would be £1780 after being doubled by the UK government.  Fabulous!  This means twice the number of lives can be transformed. Twice the number of children can have the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong.

Well done SS Francis and Therese for organising the evening and thanks to the band and all who supported the event.

It is not too late to donate to our Lenten appeal and have your donations matched by the UK government.  This period is until 12 May 2018.  Donate now by visiting our website.