We are very sorry to share the news that one of our much loved and long serving volunteers Tony Singleton passed away earlier this month. Tony was a great inspiration and supportive member of our CAFOD core team in the diocese of Hallam. Many who knew him share the sadness but have also expressed the joy of having known and worked with Tony.
Tony was passionate about issues of justice and peace, always putting others before himself and doing what he could to help create a better world for all. He cared very much about those living on the peripheries and following his visit to our Caritas partners in Bangladesh in the 1990’s, he would often reflect on that transformative experience and recall being inspired by the people he’d met from extremely vulnerable communities, whose lives had been improved through the provision of cyclone shelters and sustainable livelihood programmes supported by CAFOD.
Tony was a great advocate of Catholic Social Teaching and helped many around the diocese to understand some of the causes of poverty and the link between our faith and action as described in the article below he wrote in 2012 to campaign for sufficient food for all. Tony was a member of the diocesan adult education team and those studying for a Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies would have heard from him about the preferential option for the poor, the life and works of St Oscar Romero and the Martyrs who died whilst defending the poor in El Salvador. Tony’s faith was very important to him, he was an industrial chaplain and visited prison chaplaincies. Having himself delivered a CAFOD Lent course at HMP Doncaster, he was delighted when members of the multi faith chaplaincy there decided to give up their cigarettes and treats to raise funds for vulnerable communities overseas. As a member of the J&P Commission in Hallam, Tony played a huge part in promoting key campaigns across the diocese. Tony’s legacy will go on to influence generations to come, and amongst other gifts he has shared are the wonderful prayers he wrote as a volunteer member of CAFOD’s Theology team. Tony will be much missed and we give thanks for the opportunity to have known and worked with him.
Tony will be remembered at Mass on Thursday 13th May at 7pm, which will also be livestreamed from The Immaculate Conception Church, Rotherham. Monsignor Sexton welcomes all and a link will be made available for those who wish to join on-line.
To watch live Go to Facebook look up Immaculate Conception Rotherham and ask to be a friend. Alternatively watch the recording of the Mass later on YouTube. Go to Immaculate Conception, Rotherham and you will find it there.
Normally the parish does not have a booking system for weekday Mass, but on this occasion if anyone outside the parish is intending to come along they will need to let Monsignor Sexton know the day before (Wed 12th) telephone 01709 363753 or email email@example.com
Combining Body and Soul: by Tony Singleton
The sacredness of our food CAFOD’s Hungry for Change campaign will be concentrating on the injustices of the world’s food distribution system. Tony Singleton looks at the spiritual sustenance of food in our faith. One of the campaign’s themes will be looking at our lifestyles: how we consume; fair trade choices; eating sustainably; and checking waste. Over time we have seen the expansion of superstores and retail outlets, all offering a wide range of goods, special hard-to-refuse offers, bulk buying and so on. Within a spate of frenetic consumerism, we are tempted to spend more on things whether we need them or not. At the extremes of the food chain are the producers, especially in developing countries, crying out for a better deal and the retailers who are enforcing tough procurement policies to maximise their profit levels. Yet food is not an economic football, still less a political one, in a world where a billion people are going hungry. Food is a sacred commodity, the product of Creation and a gift from God. It is central to the Eucharistic celebration, and in a recent sermon I heard, reference was made towards the ancient blessing said at Mass after the gifts have been brought to the altar. Quoting the first of these:
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life. This with its companion prayer on the fruit of the vine is thousands of years old, used probably hundreds of centuries on feast days before the birth of Christ. The Catechism states that the People of God from the time of Moses have observed fixed feasts, beginning with the Passover, to commemorate the astonishing actions of the Saviour God and to give him thanks (cf. 1164). Predating this even more is the gift brought before God as recorded in the Book of Exodus: You will bring the best of the first fruits of your soil to the house of Yahweh your God (Ex 23: 19). That the first fruits were sacred to Yahweh is explained by John McKenzie, SJ, in that thanks are expressed for the annual harvest, perhaps in the same sense that the first born was also seen as sacred. He cites other examples: Israel as the first fruits of Yahweh; Christ as the first fruits of the dead, having risen to
new life; Christians as the first fruits of the spirit. All this, it seems to me, demonstrates the close connectedness between Creation and the sustenance of life both in this world and the next. So, thanksgiving is an important expression of celebrating the earth’s yield. Food is an essential part of Scripture, which contains references throughout to varied foodstuffs from which we obtain details of the diet of the people of the Near East from early times. Agriculture, described as the science of cultivation, is a task granted to human beings of cultivating the land and a responsibility for the care of God’s creation. This is the work of human hands. Eating is a prominent part of scriptural teaching. After all, the consumption of food is vital for our survival. While Scripture cites the enjoyment of eating as a gift of God, it emphasises that food is not the main priority in life, hence a warning about over-indulgence and wastage. Then, deploying an agricultural simile, Jesus described himself as the true vine “and my Father is the vinedresser” (Jn 15:1). Food, and indeed drink, feature a lot in the life and ministry of Jesus. One obvious but important occurrence was the multiplication of loaves and fish to feed the thousands who had come to hear him preach. Not only were they fed there was enough left over to distribute further. This was an experience of sharing what was available and making good use of the leftovers. Bread was the staple diet of working people and it was laid out in the temple as an important symbol of life. Jesus was to call himself the bread of life, telling his followers: “I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever hunger…” (Jn 6: 34). Another occurrence was the scene at the well at Sychar where Jesus was physically thirsty, but he made the women there realise that there was more to water than quenching one’s thirst: “no one who drinks the water that I shall give him will ever be thirsty again…” (Jn 4:14). Perhaps the sacredness of food and drink is exemplified most of all by Jesus at the Last Supper where he blessed both bread and wine, promising us his body and blood and, possibly, using the offertory prayer above. There is a moving passage in Acts, describing how “each day, with one heart, [the followers] regularly went to the Temple but met in their houses for the breaking of bread; they shared their food gladly and generously; they praised God… (Acts 2:46). By enacting the Last Supper, they laid the foundations for the Eucharist that we know today. At a Hallam Justice and Peace Day some while ago we heard Julian Filochowski, former CAFOD Director, describe ourselves as a breadbreaking people, ready to offer our own sacrifice of time and almsgiving to meet the challenge of global poverty. The broken bread we consume is our spiritual sustenance, the fuel to propel us towards mending a broken world. This, in turn, inspires hunger in us: to be hungry to change the combined structural sins of unfair trade, slavery and oppression, all of which corrupt the sacredness of the first fruits of Creation.