Well done to Our Lady & St Edmund Parish in Abingdon for achieving the livesimply award and many thanks to Anne Dodd, Steve Stevens, Fr Jamie and other members of the steering group for all your work towards the award. Last year on the blog we featured the start of the parish journey as the parishioners wrote pledges to live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor. A year on look at the amazing amount they have achieved.
Steve Stevens of the livesimply steering group sent us this report about their year.
LIVING SIMPLY So others may simply live.
Do you know what a wild flower meadow, a carrier bag of used stamps, over 100 black bags of unwanted clothes, two van loads of old tools and a garden produce bring & buy sale have in common? Not much or very little I imagine you thinking. Parishioners at Our Lady & St Edmund of Abingdon will know more. All these things are linked through the parish commitment to LIVESIMPLY
LIVESIMPLY is an initiative started by the CAFOD (the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development). LIVESIMPLY involves Parish communities working to live 1) More simply, 2) in Solidarity with the poor and 3) Sustainably. The latter is a major element of Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical letter LAUDATO SI’ which inspires us to reflect on how we care for the earth and all creation.
The parish decided, in the summer of 2016, to take up the challenges offered by LiveSimply and Laudato Si’. Parishioners were asked to support monthly initiatives as explained to them on the first Sunday of each month.
In respect of Living Simply – a car-Less Sunday was organized with Parishioners walking, bicycling or car sharing to Church. We promoted waste reduction and parishioners signed a pledge up have simpler Christmas. We had great success in January recycling stamps, mobile phones, ink cartridges and spectacles at the same time raising funds for Wateraid. One weekend we collected bags of unwanted clothes and together with a donation raised £1,107 enough to give 90 children in Africa one meal a day for one year through Mary’s Meals.
We enhanced our usual contribution to the local Food Bank and organised ‘Cook & Share ‘as part of our Living in Solidarity with Poor. Under this heading we also ran a very successful Garden Produce Sunday with a bring and buy sale of fruit, vegetables and flowers from people’s gardens or allotments, after each service, raised £361 for the poor and destitute in India. The Parish for a number of years has had a Covenant with Poor, which involves supporting amongst other thing Fairtrade, and we enhanced this activity this year with a Fairtrade stand outside church and a Fairtrade competition for children.
Regarding Living Sustainably In Sept of 2016 we started a Wild Flower Meadow in the church grounds to encourage bees and other Pollinators. We also installed two nest boxes and a “ bee hotel ”.
To sustain the culture of trees for food in Africa the parish collected funds during Lent for the International Tree Foundation a small charity based in Oxford. The £3750 sent to them is being used in Bamenda in the Cameroons to plant 20,000 fruit trees and to train mainly women in agroforestry, to enhance food production and generally improve living conditions.
In July we undertook a Creation Prayer walk from our church with prayer and meditation stops at Abbey Meadows and then at gardens in St Nicholas and St Ethelwolds. Two further stops were made one at the Margaret Brown Garden near St Helen’s and a second near the play area in Lambrick Way. The walk ended at Stonehill House where we had reflections, prayers and meditated on creation with a power point slide presentation.
This has been a very thought-provoking and instructive year. It is only part of our faith journey, which will continue into the future. We raised some funds to help good causes but our main objectives have been to make each of us examine our lives in relationship to those around us and understand the impact we have on life on earth and the environment. We hope to have strengthened the community spirit of the parish and raised awareness off the needs of others. We also hope to have increased the commitment of each parishioner to accept Pope Francis’ invitation in Laudato Si’ to “work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us”.
Inspired by Our Lady & St Edmund why not get your parish to sign up to the livesimply award?