CAFOD Volunteers are artisans of peace

Pope Francis said on 1 January: “Today more than ever, our societies need “artisans of peace”, messengers and witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and the happiness of the human family.”

We are so grateful to our own “artisans of peace” – all our volunteers, supporters and parishioners who extended a helping hand in 2018 to enable CAFOD’s life changing work. None of our work would be possible without your kindness, generosity and enthusiasm.

We begin 2019 with a new sense of hope about our work. Although the scale of the task ahead is large, the exceptional dedication of CAFOD’s volunteers and supporters in the Plymouth Diocese – evidenced by a very busy end of 2018 for CAFOD in Plymouth – continues to inspire us.

On 30 November, we remembered and honoured supporters and parishioners who have passed away over the last 12 months in a lovely Memorial Mass at St Mary’s in Poole, Dorset. Sincere thanks to our Dorset Deanery Area Coordinator Alannah Bolt for her efforts in coordinating this Mass and inviting parishioners to participate. It was great to see volunteers from other parts of Dorset at St Mary’s too.

Fr John Webb, Parish Priest at St Mary’s celebrated Mass and was very generous in his recognition of CAFOD’s supporters and in his ongoing strong backing for CAFOD’s work.

In Plymouth’s Cathedral Church of St Mary and St Boniface on 5 December, groups of pupils from five Roman Catholic primary schools in Plymouth participated in the last Share the Journey activity for the Plymouth Deanery.  The service, which was assisted by Deacon James Barber, was designed to enable those who have not been physically able to join other Share the Journey activities to participate and gain an appreciation of the experience of refugees and migrants.

The service was based around the Stations of the Cross and the pupils acted out the stations as the congregation followed them, likening the journey of refugees to parts of the journey Christ experienced as He carried His Cross. The pupils all did a remarkable job, demonstrating their own understanding of the challenges faced by the world’s refugees. Our hymns and prayers of the faithful, prepared and read by Monica Evans, also reflected the theme of extending help and friendship to those in need. To symbolise our support for the Holy Father’s call to us to “see, and then enable others to see, that migrants and refugees are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved”, the pupils of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School processed into the Cathedral carrying the Lampedusa Cross.

St Peter’s RC Primary School tweeting their experience of Share the Journey: 

Huge thanks to Plymouth Deanery Area Coordinator Gill Mill for her extraordinary efforts in designing the liturgy, bringing the schools (Cathedral School of St Mary’s, St Paul’s Catholic Primary School, Keyham Barton Catholic Primary School, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, St Peter’s Catholic Primary School) together, preparing the pupils, encouraging the less mobile of parishioners all over Plymouth to join us in the Cathedral and overseeing the service. It was a most meaningful and moving service that will stay in the hearts of those who experienced it.

In a further demonstration of the power of community in the Plymouth Diocese, the Union of Catholic Mothers hosted a morning tea for everyone who attended the service and raised in excess of £75 for CAFOD.

Finally, in Exeter’s beautiful Sacred Heart Church on 8 December, we were privileged to have our Bishop, the Right Reverend Mark O’Toole celebrate the annual CAFOD Advent Mass with Parish Priest Fr Kieran Kirby. CAFOD volunteers and children brought three symbols to the altar in recognition of the journey of Mary and Joseph and the journey that refugees make in fleeing their countries – some pebbles, a small bowl of honey, and a clump of straw. The pebbles represented the journey for Mary and Joseph (and for refugees), the honey represented the wild honey John the Baptist ate in the desert (and the food that refugees must find) and the straw represented the crib Mary prepared for the baby Jesus (and the shelter refugees must find).

Grateful thanks to the very talented musicians of Sacred Heart and the children of St Nicholas Catholic Primary Academy in Exeter for the superb music and singing. Thanks to our Exeter Deanery Area Coordinator Chris Wightman, to Fr Kieran, to Gerry Hinton, to Deacon Lester Yeo, and to Veronica for all their help with organising the liturgy and to the parish volunteers who helped with catering. The Mass was a wonderful celebration of our community and the dedication of our volunteers.

CAFOD Advent Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Exeter

As we all prepare to tackle the challenges that 2019 brings us, think about making a New Year’s Resolution with a difference. Help us to transform the lives of our brothers and sisters living in poverty overseas by choosing a different sort of challenge in 2019. Be an artisan of peace by joining our team of volunteers and help to change lives.

Contact us via email: or telephone 01752 268 768.

Inspirational emergency fundraisers raise £5250 for two emergencies in a month!


We have many amazing stories to share here, but this one is particularly inspiring:

In August when Kerala was devastated by the huge floods the Keralan community in the Diocese of Plymouth all had family affected by the emergency. As they were preparing their own response they were approached by the Filipino community in the diocese to see if they could help because of their gratitude for the support shown to them during Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

Boat - Kerala Floods

Caritas volunteers rescue families from the waters

Merlyn McGuire, leader of the Filipino community in the area, said: “The emotions of seeing people in such a situation as the Kerala floods drove me to help organise this event. I am from the Philippines, which is a country that has seen a lot of havoc. My heart goes out to the people affected – I could see myself in their situation.”



Organisers: Merlyn McGuire, Raphy George, Benny Palatti, Joshy Vargheese & Simon Giarchi

So together the two communities came together to organise a Harvest Supper of authentic Indian and Filipino food to raise funds for CAFOD’s and our Caritas partner’s in India emergency Keralan Floods appeal. In less than two weeks they’d reached out across the Catholic parishes in the Plymouth area and in their workplaces, particularly the local hospitals, and sold over 250 tickets!!!


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All had a great time at the Harvest Supper

The Harvest Supper was a great success thanks to all the volunteers who cooked and ran the event, with all who attended enjoying a tasty Keralan and Filipino meal and the great atmosphere. People came from across the city, as well as from the Catholic community a good number came from the city’s hospitals where many of the Kralan community work. All in all including with donations and raffle income too, the amazing event raised an inspirational £3,300!

Typhoon Mangkhut devistation

Destroyed homes from Super-Typhoon Mangkhut

Sadly, on the night of the Kerala Flood Fundraiser the Philippines was battered by ‘super-typhoon’ Mangkhut! That night the organisers planned another event a month later to support CAFOD/Caritas’ response for those affected by the ‘super-typhoon’. This time the event drew in around 150 people again from the Catholic parishes and from friends of the Filipino across the region and raised a fab £1,950!

Merlyn said “We were so happy with the amount we raised in a just a few hours and with the response from the community. We were so happy to have been able to work the Keralan community, who were so supportive and worked so hard. We had a good response, and my friends from the Filipino community helped me – bringing noodles, cake and dessert! The money we raised from both events went straight to CAFOD and their Caritas Partners in Kerala and the Philippines.”

Organisers Merlyn McGuire & Raphy George

Lead organisers Merlyn McGuire & Raphy George

Raphy George, one of the lead organisers and a representative of the Keralan community, added: “These joint efforts by the Filipino and Indian communities in the city. There has been great solidarity and compassion from the Filipino side and we are so grateful to work alongside them for all those affected by the natural disasters. We had a very good team behind us now and we were able to cook for hundreds of people from different walks of society, so we’ve also spread the word widely!”

It’s fair to say the events were a huge success raising a combined total over £5250 for CAFOD’s and our international Caritas partner’s responses to both emergencies. In India our Church partners rebuilding people’s lives after the floods are Caritas India, official development arm of the Catholic Church in India. CAFOD’s Filipino partners are Caritas Philippines known locally as NASSA (National Secretariat for Social Action, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines CBCP), Caritas Manila alongside the USA’s Caritas agency Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

Our huge thanks in particular go to lead organisers Merlyn McGuire, Raphy George, Benny Palatti, Joshy Vargheese, Veron Farrow President of Filipino British Association in Plymouth (FBAIP) and Roly Cawaing President of Filipino British Society (FBS) who helped organise the events; as well as all of the amazing members of Plymouth’s Kerala Community and from the Filipino community organisations FBAIP and FBS! All of their efforts are already transforming the lives of many of our sisters and brothers affected by both natural disasters.

To find out more about how CAFOD helps in an emergency, visit:






Sun filled annual CAFOD event for Bideford & Torrington breaks new local record!

fundraising web pages IMG_0866The Bideford & Torrington CAFOD Tea Afternoon and annual fundraiser took place at the home of Linda and Richard Escott on 2nd June 2018. The sun, which had shone for many weeks, continued to shine, making it a perfect day for the event.

Attending the event, along with many members of the Catholic parish, were neighbours, friends, and members of local walking groups and other churches who all came along to sit in the sunshine, chat, drink tea and coffee and indulge in a delicious cream tea or cakes.

Linda said “The usual stalls were bursting with crafts, books, plants, bric-a-brac and cakes. The raffle was as popular as usual and the helpers were hardworking and cheerful. Our total raised was the best yet at £1140! Richard and I thank all our helpers and everyone who came along to make the event such a success”.

All our huge thanks to Linda and Richard, all their fantastic team and all wh0 supported the event. All of the money raised with completely transform peoples lives around the world through CAFOD and our inspirational partners!

If you’re inspired by this wonderful event, why not think about organising your own fundraising event for CAFOD. Visit CAFOD’s fundraising web pages for more ideas and help to make a difference too…