Thank you Eric for over 25 years of volunteering

Eric Smith

Eric Smith

I was delighted to be invited to St Peter’s Church in  Winchester on Sunday to present a papal blessing to Eric Smith to thank him for volunteering for CAFOD for over twenty-five years.  Eric had been a member of St Peter & the Winchester Martyrs’ parish for over 40 years and he started volunteering for CAFOD in 1991. He became involved in a project to collect 5ps during Advent and Lent using CAFOD pyramid boxes. He is so well-known for collecting 5ps that people even stop him in the street to give him their spare 5ps. He reckons that he has raised over £25,000 so far. Which is a fantastic amount!

As a CAFOD parish volunteer Eric promotes the Harvest and Lent fast days each year and he regularly support the monthly hunger lunches held at St Peter’s.

 Eric Smith with Fr Mark Hogan

Eric Smith with Fr Mark Hogan

Eric was thrilled with the papal blessing and told me that he was just using the talents that God had given him to help others. He wanted to thank all those who had supported him over the years especially Lynda and Laura from the CAFOD Portsmouth office. His dream would be everyone in England collecting their 5ps and donating them to CAFOD!

Thank you so much Eric for all you  have done for CAFOD over the years  and for your love and concern for your brothers and sisters living in poverty overseas.

Eric Smith

Eric Smith

Boscombe Bakers walk in solidarity with Refugees .

Corpus Christ Share the Journey

Corpus Christi Share the Journey

Thank you so much to parishioners from Corpus Christi, Boscombe who walked 2 miles as part of Share the Journey.The campaign is now in its second phase of walking around the world and so far we have walked 43,993 miles!

Richard who organised the walk told me “When planning this walk for Corpus Christi, Boscombe at the beginning of June, I was hoping for good weather, and my hopes were more than fulfilled with a beautiful day. What I had not realised was there were 2 big summer fair events in Bournemouth on the same day. So the walkers were in rather short supply, but at least the Bakers of Boscombe did not let us down, and they discarded their aprons, and donned their walking gear.

Although only 2 miles, on a hot humid day that was far enough, and it enabled us all to reflect on the hardship endured by refugees who walked right across Europe. Also our thoughts and prayers  were with the 5 refugees whose testimonies featured in the Share the Journey leaflets. Oh and one of our walkers Annie went straight from our walk to sing in the choir at the Southbourne Shake and Stir festival, I wonder if they sang These Boots are made for Walking?”

Walking in solidarity with refugees

Walking in solidarity with refugees

During the walk the parishioners took breaks, reflected and prayed for refugees. The following group prayer was said;

            God of mercy, with every step we make today, we pray your love will 

           fill our hearts and move us deeply.

          Open our eyes to see the face of Christ in all we meet along the way. Amen

Many thanks to all those who took part in the walk on such a hot day and special thanks to Richard for organising the walk.

If you are interested in joining a Share the Journey walk there is one next Sunday 8th July around Southampton Common meeting at the Cowherds pub SO15 7NN   at 3pm.

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Ginny O’Kelly Celebrating 25 years of Volunteering for CAFOD

Ginny O'Kelly

Ginny O’Kelly

What a pleasure it was to visit St Joseph’s Church Basingstoke on Sunday to thank Ginny O’Kelly for over twenty-five years of volunteering for CAFOD and to present her with a papal blessing in recognition of her support and dedication. Ginny has been  parishioner at St Joseph’s for over fifty years and in that time she has organised CAFOD hunger and soup lunches and spoken at Lent and Harvest fast days helping to raise over £1 million in the last 25 years. Through her work at Bishop Challoner secondary school she has encouraged students to become CAFOD supporters and participate in CAFOD campaigns .

Thank you so much Ginny for all you have done for CAFOD, for putting your faith into action and caring for you brothers and sisters living in poverty overseas. 

Fr Chris, Ginny and myself after the mass

Fr Chris, Ginny and myself after the mass

Ginny told me about her experience of  volunteering .

“I became involved with CAFOD around the time of Pope John Paul’s visit.   The first thing I helped out at was a rich man poor man supper at church, I did the cooking.

During the 90’s I began helping to run soup and bread Hunger  Lunches for the fast days and went to as many of CAFOD’s information days as possible to learn as much as I could.  I became active in promoting CAFOD at Bishop Challoner School and started teaching classes about CAFOD.  This was the time of The Bosnian war and my awareness of the plight of refugees began.

CAFOD began running public speaking training, which I attended and have spoken at Masses ever since; highlighting CAFOD’s work and campaigns and thanking supporters.  Over the years I’ve met a lot of interesting people, heard some fantastic speakers and learned a lot about what’s going on all over the world.

I have also done some very odd things such as giving out leaflets to shoppers in our town centre whilst standing next to a giant fish and slice of bread, all in the name of highlighting that the world has enough food for everyone yet some still go hungry.  I once took a party of young people to our local Argos where we were welcomed with smiles and treated like royalty, only for me to hand them over a petition saying that their company was selling gold products that were being mined in such a way as to harm whole communities in the developing world.  The press were there to record the event.

CAFOD work has involved me in doing a lot of cutting out too.  I’ve cut out 750 hands for youngsters to write messages to the Prime Minister for a campaign, 800 droplets of water for people to write messages on before being sent to the G8 Summit to ask them to tackle water poverty, 700 – 800 hearts for youngsters to write things they fear  are being threatened by climate change, and many more cutting and sticking activities.  I truly believe that enthusing the young is a good way to ensure that governments listen to CAFOD messages.

It’s not all been good, I have been heckled after speaking at mass and told by a few parishioners, quite vociferously, that things never change and people are sick of hearing about and helping the poor.  This knocked my confidence and stopped me wanting to talk in public, but not for long.  I’m committed to changing things for the poor and so thankful to be in a really generous parish.”

Inspired by Ginny to volunteer for CAFOD lots of information here or email portsmouth@cafod.org.uk