The sun was shining for us last Saturday when we visited the Isle of Wight for our “Summer Gathering” event, which was held at the parish hall in Ventnor.
It was a great afternoon with nearly 60 people coming from all over the island – we really enjoyed meeting everyone, from long-standing volunteers to new supporters.
The meeting opened in prayer – we were lead by Fr PJ Smith in remembering the people of Nepal. This was followed by Lynda’s presentation, which offered a brief overview of CAFOD and focused in particular on what is happening in the diocese, with a special focus on the recent Lenten appeal.
Our main speaker on the day was Mary Lucas, our Country Representative for Sri Lanka and the Middle East, who delivered a thought-provoking presentation about CAFOD’s work in Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. After giving a brief historical overview of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she talked about her own experiences in the region, the work of CAFOD’s partners and how we can help, for example by holding our government into account.
The comfort break offered everyone a chance to enjoy the beautiful sunshine and, even better, to have a cup of tea and try the delicious cakes baked by Frances Lucas and her fabulous team of helpers – they were really yummy! John Baldry ran a special Traidcraft stall, selling fair trade Palestinian goods, which also was a great success.
The second part of the afternoon was focused on volunteering and particularly on what our amazing volunteers are doing in the different parishes and schools on the island. A special thanks goes to Rosemary Peacock and Liz Burden, our Education Volunteers, who talked about their work in schools, and to Alistair Drain, Ann Thorp, Angela McKinley and Kathleen Till, who inspired us all by talking about their work and the work of their CAFOD teams in their respective parishes. You can have a look at the slides from the day by downloading them here.
We closed the meeting in prayer by remembering Archbishop Oscar Romero, who will be beatified next Saturday in El Salvador: take a look at this beautiful short film on his life and legacy.
We would like to say a special thanks to everyone who helped make the day so special: Frances, Brian, Joan, Angela, Julia and all the their team of helpers for providing such excellent hospitality and setting up the parish hall, John Baldry for running the Traidcraft stall, Fr PJ for hosting us and leading us in prayer, our volunteers (Rosemary, Liz, Alistair, Ann, Angela and Kathleen) for sharing their experiences, and to everyone who came along. It was a really special afternoon. We will soon be in touch to all those of you who have expressed an interesting in volunteering in your parishes.
We look forward to returning to the Isle of Wight for other future events!