What an inspiring day we had on Saturday at the joint CAFOD and Caritas Portsmouth conference “Living simply and in solidarity with the poor”. Many thanks to St Peter’s in Winchester for hosting the day and special thanks to our speakers Libby Abbot Campaigns Officer at CAFOD and Fr Richard McKay .
Libby started off the day focusing on living simply. She shared her experience of visiting the South Pacific islands of Siti Levu and Yasawas and how climate change is effecting them today. Rising sea levels mean higher and lower tides, and warmer water is bleaching the coral reefs and making it uninhabitable for the fish and other sea life. She meet with CAFOD partner Caritas Fiji to discuss disaster risk reduction work as storms are getting stronger and sometimes reaching category 5 with wind speeds of up to 145 miles per hour.
Next Libby talked about CAFOD’ s new campaign Our Common Home and shared the many ways to get involved from signing a petition to the Prime Minister which can be printed off so that other parishioners can sign as well , to organising a Creation Celebration Mass in your parish and coming to the Time is Now Climate Change lobby of parliament on 26th June to meet with your MP.
Fr Richard McKay the parish priest from St Nicholas of Tolentino, an inner city parish in Bristol, spoke about how to live in solidarity with the poor. He started with Christ words echoing Isaiah “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free..” Luke 4:14 -21
He described how his parish supports those in need in the local area including refugees and asylum seekers. Their parish mission ..”is to be a people at the service of the poor, both locally and globally; to be a community of warmth and welcome; to be a community of healing and hope.” He told moving stories about the parishes’ work with asylum seekers and the setting up of their charity Borderlands from Exclusion to Belonging. He challenged us all to “open ” the doors of the church, to welcome everyone and to be a “field hospital” for those in need.
” Fr Richard’s talk eloquently linked faith and holiness with action for the poor ” attendee at the conference.
In the afternoon we had a workshop on how to become a livesimply parish led by Anne Dodd from Our Lady and St Edmund’s parish in Abingdon who achieved the award in 2017 . Kevin Gallagher, director of Caritas Portsmouth led a workshop on the different Cartias projects in the diocese.
Thank you to all those who came and I hope you found the day as inspiring and challenging as I did !