Step into the GAP: Sharing stories of Cambodia in Blackpool, Devon and Somerset

James Ronan, who visited Cambodia on CAFOD’s Step into the Gap, talks about how he has been sharing his experiences of seeing CAFOD’s work in Cambodia.

Since returning from Cambodia I have had the privilege of being able to share the important stories of the people we spent time with on the visit overseas. I have been giving talks and sharing my experiences of CAFOD’s work with students, staff and parishioners in my placement at St Mary’s Catholic Academy and the parish of St John Vianney in Blackpool and across the country. It has been an amazing opportunity sharing the monumental work achieved in Cambodia in such a short space of time only made possible through the Catholic communities support here in England and Wales through CAFOD.

Both myself and fellow gapper Hannah (who went to Ethiopia) had the opportunity to share on the 4th April about our overseas visits at a parish evening at St John Vianney, which was attended by nineteen people. I shared the stories of the Cambodian communities we met in Ou Breus village and how through CAFOD and its partners support the community now has better access to clean safe drinking water through the development of a water pump. For the presentation evening for parishioners I cooked a Cambodian dessert called Kuay Kamuan (Bananas cooked in Coconut milk) and Hannah cooked Ethiopian spinach which went down really well.

Photo 1

James shares Step into the Gap Cambodia visit with parishioners at an evening at St John Vianney’s in Blackpool.

Most recently I travelled back down to Devon where I am originally from to share the Step into the Gap experience with CAFOD Plymouth School Volunteers at their training day in Honiton. It was great to catch up with CAFOD staff members Simon Giarchi and David Brinn about my work and be able to talk to school volunteers about seeing CAFOD’s work first hand and how through not only parishes but schools engaging in CAFOD fundraising, change has been achieved.

A few days after my visit in Honiton I gave a presentation on Sunday after Mass at Our Lady of the Assumption & St Mary Magdalene in Tavistock (my old parish church) which was attended by over sixty parishioners. Again this presentation was really well received and raised over £100 for CAFOD in donations.  It was nice to go back to the parish where previously I had so much CAFOD input (was previously the CAFOD parish contact and a volunteer for CAFOD Plymouth in my time as a parishioner).

Photo 2

James at the CAFOD Plymouth schools volunteers training day sharing about the Step into the Gap Cambodia visit.

The week after I travelled over to Somerset where I was warmly welcomed by the parish of St Thomas More in Bradford on Avon to share the stories of the Cambodian people I met and to kick start the parish in getting involved in CAFOD’s work.

On Sunday the 21st of May I attended Mass at the parish and was warmly welcomed by the whole congregation. I shared a little about my placement at St Mary’s, my gap year experience and the importance of CAFOD’s work in Cambodia. I then invited parishioners to listen to my talk after Mass which was in the Hub next door, it was great to see such enthusiasm from the parish about getting involved in CAFOD’s work. Around twenty parishioners attended the presentation after Mass where there was tea, coffee and cake with all donations going towards CAFOD’s work overseas. In total the parish raised £200 for CAFOD from my sharing of CAFOD’s work in Cambodia which was a fantastic achievement and it is hoped now that the parish will go on to fund-raise and get more involved in CAFOD’s work.

P1050178

James sharing with parishioners of St Thomas More. 

It has been great to share the first hand experiences of CAFOD’s and its partners with others and the important stories of the Cambodian people I met and spent time with in Cambodia. I am really looking forward to the last few months in my placement in Blackpool working at St Mary’s getting students involved in CAFOD’s work.

Hundreds walk in solidarity as Lampedusa Cross is delivered to Plymouth shores by Royal Navy

img_7254

Bishop Mark O’Toole with CofE Arch-Deacon Ian Chandler, representatives from the Royal Navy and Oliver Colevile MP with the Lampedusa Cross on the Mayflower Steps

Marking the end of the Year of Mercy, hundreds from across the Diocese of Plymouth gathered in Plymouth city centre, travelling from as far away as Wool in Dorset and Truro in Cornwall, to take part in a Walk of Witness in solidarity with refugees. The Walk was led by Bishop Mark O’Toole, who walked alongside the diocesan Lampedusa Cross – a cross hand carved from the wreckage of refugee boats, the group walked to Plymouth Roman Catholic Cathedral, where a multi-faith service will took place.

Write a message of hope to refugees

As part of a campaign led by CAFOD and our partners CSAN and the Jesuit Refugee Service, each Catholic cathedral in England and Wales has been gifted a cross and invited to display it. The Lampedusa Crosses have become an international symbol of remembrance, hope and solidarity with refugees.

The Presentation of the Lampedusa Cross

img_7241

Royal Navy launch delivering the Lampedusa Cross to Bishop Mark and faith leaders at the Mayflower Steps

At the start of the day, representatives from the Royal Navy, who have been involved in European led rescue operations in the Mediterranean, symbolically delivered the Lampedusa cross by boat to Catholic Bishop of Plymouth, Mark O’Toole and Anglican Archdeacon of Plymouth, Ian Chandler and other faith leaders, landing at The Mayflower Steps.

044-extra-walk-of-witness-sandrabarrett

Bishop Mark at Walk of Witness

Bishop Mark O’Toole said:  “Lampedusa is the place where, within his first months, Pope Francis went and he asked the question from the beginning of the Bible, ‘Where is your brother?’ reminding all of us that these people are our brothers and sisters.

 

“We share a common humanity and whilst there are great challenges in our immigration policy which we’re all very sensitive of, nevertheless particularly for families and for children, we must have a great compassion and empathy for them. It’s been good for our country that we’ve been able to welcome some of those that are most endangered at this time.”

Standing together to show solidarity

CAFOD organised the event alongside the Catholic Diocese of Plymouth, the Anglican Diocese of Exeter, Justice and Peace Plymouth, and local charity Transforming Plymouth Together.

Co-organiser of the event, CAFOD’s Coordinator for the Diocese of Plymouth, Simon Giarchi, said:

“It was inspirational to see people from across the diocese come together to represent their communities and show solidarity with their brothers and sisters who are seeking sanctuary. On the day, we received hundreds of messages of hope for refugees from across the diocese, that were then blessed at the interfaith service.

“We had nothing but positive feedback from the public and it was very affirming experience for everyone. I would like to thank everyone who came and helped organise this fantastic event.”

People in the South West and around the country have been invited to share their messages with refugees; CAFOD have now received over 24,000 messages!

Write a message of hope to refugees

Preparing for Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si

Pope Francis & Dove

In the lead up to the launch of Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Laudato Si (meaning Be Praised) On the Care of our Common Home. We are asking everyone to join us to pray that the world will be inspired by Pope Francis’ leadership and takes action in this crucial year.

Sunset over Ganges Delta and CAFOD partner,Caritas Bangladesh's project in Mongla District

Sunset over Ganges Delta and CAFOD partner,Caritas Bangladesh’s project in Mongla District

The encyclical title Laudato Si  is taken from St Francis of Assisi’s beautiful prayer the Canticle of Brother Sun.

The Encyclical will be released on the 18th of June, and will be about Climate Change and the lives of communities living in poverty around the world, emphasising the link between environmental destruction and poverty. The interconnection between human dignity and human development and human ecology is also expected to be a central  topic of the encyclical.

We therefore encourage you all to join us in praying St Francis’ beautiful prayer with us:

Canticle of Brother Sun

Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
yours are the praises, the glory, the honour
and all blessing.To you alone, Most High, do they belong
and no human is worthy to mention your name.Praised be you, my Lord, with all your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
who is the day and through whom you give us light.

And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour;
and bears a likeness of you, Most High One.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars:
in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be you, my Lord, through Brother Wind;
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,
through which you give sustenance to your creatures.

Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be you, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night:
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us
and who produces various fruit
with coloured flowers and herbs.

Praised be you, my Lord,
through those who give pardon for your love
and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessèd are those who endure in peace:
for by you, Most High, shall they be crowned.

Praised be you, my Lord, for our Sister,
Bodily Death,
from whom no one living can escape:
woe to those who die in mortal sin.

Blessèd are those whom death will find
in your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give him thanks
and serve him with great humility.

For more of CAFODs resources in the lead up to the launch of the encyclical Laudato Si  please visit the CAFOD website where CAFODs’ theology team have pulled together some excellent resources to support you to engage with this historic document.

http://www.cafod.org.uk/Pray/Encyclical