Thank you Marie-Claude for over 30 years of Volunteering

Fr Kevin presenting the Papal Blessing to Marie -Claude

Fr Kevin presenting the Papal Blessing to Marie -Claude

It was a pleasure to visit Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Southbourne on Sunday to present a Papal Blessing to Marie-Claude Marchesi who has been the CAFOD parish volunteer in the parish for over 30 years . During this time Marie -Claude has given the Harvest and Lent fast day talks, and encouraged parishioners to support many CAFOD projects including most recently Connect2 Brazil and Connect2 Ethiopia.  We really appreciate all that you have done for your brothers and sisters living in poverty overseas Marie-Claude, and thank you for your commitment to and support of CAFOD.

Marie -Claude

Marie -Claude

I asked Marie-Claude why she supports CAFOD  and here is her  inspiring response.

“Just a few words about my volunteering with CAFOD: from an early age have been brought up to think about people less fortunate and to share with those in need. I moved to England in 1977 and to Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in  Southbourne and it seemed the right thing to give on a regular basis to CAFOD through the Self Denial Friday envelopes; it became even more important as our children were growing up to share with our brothers and sisters living in poverty and to make them realise how lucky we were to have food on the table and a roof over our heads. They would add their pennies to the envelope every week; a simple act but very meaningful.

Why CAFOD? We have always liked the fact that CAFOD is not just any charity, but with CAFOD we put our faith in action. CAFOD works closely with people around the world, helping them to help themselves, to stand on their own two feet by providing training, tools… Not just the crumbs from the rich man’s table but a bridge between us who have so much and those who have so little, trying to survive in harsh conditions, living in poverty. This is what I really like about CAFOD.

I got involved in a more practical way at OLQP in 1987 when I took over from Diane Flexman as Parish coordinator. I was approached by Canon Murphy after telling him that I would not know what to do with myself now that my youngest daughter was starting school!!

Since 1987 I have coordinated various projects ( Ethiopia, Peru, Bangladesh), then got the Parish involved with the Challenge 2000 scheme in 1998 (the Parish worked to improve healthcare, education and livelihood wherever the need was the greatest). In 2002 we started the Today, Tomorrow, Together scheme followed in 2006 with Focus on Timor, East Africa. In 2011 we started the Connect2 schemes with Brazil and lately Ethiopia which we completed recently. We’ve always had the envelopes at the back of the church and I have at regular intervals put notes in the newsletter with updates on the current project, how much the parish raised and feed back from the communities we were supporting. I have also organised the Family Fast Days and given talks at the different masses as well as stapling the envelopes to the newsletters.

Also got involved in CAFOD’s campaigns over the years,( Jubilee 2000 as well as Make Poverty History, Drop the Debt, Power to be, Climate change and Share the journey campaigns). I remember going to London for demonstrations and one in particular with some of my children and forming this huge human chain… a very powerful symbol which had a great impact on them. Whenever possible I put campaign cards at the back of church to encourage parishioners to get involved; I have also organised special collections in times of natural disasters also to help refugees and people suffering from war and oppression (Yemen comes to mind), usually with a good response from parishioners

I am also an MP correspondent writing to my MP 2 or 3 times a year on various campaigns.

Finally, I recently got involved with “Recycling for good causes” collecting items of jewellery, coins, stamps, cameras etc… and the money going to CAFOD: great response from the Parish as I sent two 10kg bags!!

I really believe in the work CAFOD does around the world and by being involved in specific projects, I feel that special link between our brothers and sisters around the world and us. We know where the money raised goes and by getting the feed back we know that we are really helping people to improve their lives and giving them a chance to live their lives with dignity. We know that together we can make a difference.”

Marie-Claude Marchesi



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