Over four hundred young people from Portsmouth and beyond joined Bishop Crispian Hollis to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development’s (CAFOD) Lent Fast Day.
Last Friday, young people from 13 different primary and secondary schools took part in a special Lenten Mass at Portsmouth Cathedral to celebrate and reflect on the difference their support has made to people living in the developing world.
In the last 10 years alone, schools, parishes and individuals in the Portsmouth diocese have raised a staggering £838,890 by giving up something on Lent Fast Day and donating the money to CAFOD.
Led by Bishop Crispian Hollis, the service featured music from St Edmund’s RC Secondary School, Portsmouth, accompanying a choir made up of pupils from St Paul’s Catholic Primary, Paulsgrove, St John’s Cathedral Catholic Primary, Portsmouth and St Thomas More RC Primary in Havant. Pupils from St Thomas More also sang a particularly beautiful rendition of ‘Believe’ by Lin Marsh at Communion.
Pupils from St Joseph’s RC Primary school, Aldershot and Bishop Challoner Secondary school, Basingstoke helped with the reading and said their own special prayers during the service, whilst pupils from Corpus Christi RC Primary and St Patrick’s RC Primary assisted with a very special offertory symbolising CAFOD’s work over the years.
Students from St Edmund’s Secondary school, Millie and Bailey said, ‘We’ve been supporting CAFOD for years. I think it was mentioned in my very first lesson in primary school!’
Parish volunteer, Paula Medd, said, ‘I remember the very first Fast Day, 50 years ago! My mother was a member of the Catholic Women’s League and I was a young teacher in the diocese at the time. I asked my class to give up their school dinner that Friday and donate their shilling to CAFOD.’
CAFOD Diocesan Manager, Lynda Mussell, said: ‘This was such a fantastic celebration. It was so moving to see the Cathedral packed to the rafters with people of all ages and such a great opportunity to acknowledge their ongoing support and the sacrifices they have made to help make a difference for those living in some of the poorest communities in the world.’
This year, CAFOD is launching its ‘give it up’ campaigns to encourage supporters to give something up for the whole season of Lent. For example, supporters could turn their biscuits into ‘bicycles’ by giving the money saved by foregoing their usual snack to help buy bicycles for community workers in Rwanda. School children sponsored to give up sweets or chocolate could help pay for bees to make honey that poor families can sell to make a living.
Bailey, from St Edmund’s RC Secondary school, said, ‘I’m giving up chocolate and it’s really hard! This year, every tutor group has a money box to raise money for CAFOD throughout Lent.’
Millie added, ‘This year, we’ll be having all sorts of events, like a sponsored silence and cake sales.’
Lynda said, “We want to remind people, our families and friends, that whilst so much has been achieved, we can’t stop, the need is great. Whatever people give up this Lent, biscuits, wine, magazines, a meal, all can be transformed into lasting change for a child, a family even a whole community in the developing world.“
‘We’d like to say a special thanks to Bishop Crispian, all the clergy (particularly Canon Hopgood) and stewards who assisted with the Mass, Mr Willis for organising the music so well and all the planning team who came from schools around the diocese, including Sister Fiona Jackson, School Chaplain from St Edmund’s secondary, Miss Catherine Hobbs, headteacher at St John’s Cathedral Catholic primary school, Mrs Anne Jones, headteacher from St Swithun’s primary school, and Mrs Alison Ternan from Corpus Christi primary school. A special big hug of thanks goes out to our fab volunteers of course, without whom so much couldn’t happen at all – Maureen Thompson, Jean Watson, Dan Quirke, Paula Medd and Hope!’
To find out more and make a donation, visit cafod.org.uk/giveitup or contact the local CAFOD office on 01252 329 385.