Despite the extreme weather forecast, more than 200 CAFOD supporters from parishes, schools and Catholic organisations across the diocese, joined together for a special Mass of Thanksgiving and Celebration. Our own Bishop John Rawsthorne, outgoing chair of CAFOD’s Board of Trustees welcomed everyone, and Bishop John Arnold the new Chair of CAFOD led the Mass in concelebration with local clergy. Liturgists, musicians and choirs from parishes and schools from around the diocese enriched the celebration of Mass. The liturgy expressed CAFOD’s work, and reflected the reality of engagement with the experience of the poor, in order to bring about life giving development and transformation both overseas as well as in the lives of people around the diocese of Hallam. Bishop John Arnold spoke about some of the work he had personally witnessed, the handing over of keys for new homes, post tsunami in Sri Lanka, and his encounter with survivors of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, all assisted by CAFOD supporters. Bishop John Arnold said “it is a joy to see that CAFOD is a household name and to know that more than 90% of our parishes support CAFOD’s Family Fast Days”.
At the end of the Mass, Angela Powell, Diocesan Manager for CAFOD said “as the local representative, it is my privilege to say a huge thank you to our loyal and faithful supporters for their prayers, campaigning and most generous fundraising and wealth sharing”. Since1993, parish and school communities, religious, Catholic organisations and individuals in Hallam have donated more than £5 million to CAFOD. This has enabled CAFOD partners to work with many grass root organisations, bringing humanitarian relief, as well as improving the livelihoods of thousands of poor communities around the world.
Bishop John Arnold called us to look to the future and CAFOD’s ongoing commitment to building Gods Kingdom on Earth. This was picked up again at the end of the Mass, when everyone was invited to say together, a prayer of recommitment. CAFOD’s 50th year Anniversary is an opportunity to reflect and affirm what has been achieved over the years. It is also a time to look forward and acknowledge that there is still much to do to achieve our vision of a world where all can live with dignity and share in the good things of God’s creation.
Following Mass, a reception was held in the parish hall, thanks to the hospitality of Fr Brian Lowden and the parish community of St William of York.