Fylde parish community comes together to act on climate change

Emily McIndoe, CAFOD volunteer and parishioner at St Peter’s Catholic Church in Lytham, writes about her parish’s involvement in CAFOD’s climate change campaign, Our Common Home, at Lytham Club Day on Saturday 22 June…..

The day went really well. We had a lot of positive reactions from bystanders to the fact that we were addressing the issue of climate change. It was quite heartening that several groups involved in Lytham Club Day addressed the issue, not just ourselves. In the weeks before Club Day, we invited parishioners to make pledges to do more to protect the environment, which we then made into a poster that is going to be put up in the Parish Hall. During the walk we gave out green heart stickers and we all had climate themed banners. The weather was wonderful and all the team were very enthusiastic throughout the route of the walk. St Peter’s Primary School were also involved with each class making a climate change themed banner, and they were all given ‘Zero Hero’ stickers.

St Peter's parish, gather for Lytham Club Day

St Peter’s parish, gather for Lytham Club Day

I gave Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde, a green heart sticker which he put on. He was enthusiastic to meet with us and talk about the Lobby and climate change.  Mark Menzies MP said, “As a Member of the International Development Select Committee, I have visited communities whose lives are being impacted as a result of climate change. I am determined to do all I can to ensure that issues such as the environment and climate change are acted on by the international community.”

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Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde, with Chris McIndoe, CAFOD parish volunteer at St Peter’s, Lytham

St Peter’s parish have also written to Mark Menzies MP to ask his opinion on climate change using the three prompt questions given out to CAFOD campaigners for the lobby. The letter was signed by 17 people including Fr David Burns, Parish Priest. We also included green heart pledges from members of the parish and the children’s liturgy group to challenge themselves to take care of the environment. I spoke to Mark about this at the lobby as we’ve not had a parish response and he said he will get back to us and pledge to reduce his plastic waste.

Throughout June, I have been campaigning with members of St Peter’s Lytham and CAFOD Lancaster to raise awareness about climate change in Lytham, and to lobby our MP, Mark Menzies, to commit to making the UK a world leader in climate action. During both our meetings, Mark has been vocal of his support for climate action, which is incredibly encouraging. What we need now is for this to translate into real government policy and we hope that his stated support is reflected in his voting record on climate policies from now on. 

Overall it was a great start to our parish’s participation in Our Common Home and will hopefully lead the way into the parish thinking more about climate change and how we can take action to be more environmentally friendly. 

Our Common Home: climate campaign launch in Lancaster Diocese

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“Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us”  (Pope Francis).

Climate change affects our health, our homes, our health, our heritage and our beautiful landscapes. Our community centres where we meet, our sports fields where we play and our places of pilgrimage where we reflect and pray. Climate change ruins the work we do to fight poverty and to lead better lives.

We have already made huge progress on climate change and scientists know more than they ever have. But things are urgent now. Climate change affects living creatures and the beautiful world that God has created. So, as Christians, we have a part to play in the response.

CAFOD has launched a new climate campaign, Our Common Home, and is asking every parish to hold a Creation Mass to celebrate our beautiful world so that we might take care for it in a better way.

A Creation Celebration is a great opportunity to bring your parish or community together to act on the biggest issue of our time – climate change. We are all part of God’s creation and we are called to care for, protect and restore our common home, the earth.

By organising a Creation Celebration, you will be joining a global Catholic family, campaigning for change. We have inspiring stories of climate campaigners from all over the world in our Organisers’ Guide. You may like to share these stories to motivate others to join our campaign in your parish or community.

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In Lancaster Diocese we will be launching our new campaign, Our Common Home, with Creation Masses at Our Lady & St Edward’s parish in Preston, over the weekend of 18th and 19th May.

We will be joined by Sarah Croft, CAFOD’s Campaigns Manager from Romero House in London and Agnes Kalekye Kithikii, CAFOD Programme Manager from Eritrea.

Come and join us at: Our Lady & St Edward’s Catholic Church,  4 Malborough Drive, Preston, PR2 9UE,  and see how you could run the new campaign in your parish by celebrating a Creation Mass.

After each Mass that weekend, we will have a time of sharing in the Parish Centre. All events are free and suitable for all ages. 

After the 6.00pm Saturday Vigil Mass: Jacob’s Join and CAFOD Quiz (7.00pm meal for 7.30pm quiz)

After the 8.30am Sunday Mass: Parish Breakfast – with some extras…

After the the 10.30am Sunday Mass: Coffee and “Bring a sandwich for your Brunch”

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Our Lady & St Edward’s Parish CAFOD Group

A Creation Celebration is a chance to celebrate, to talk and to act. We will have a chance to share our own ideas of what we all can do to take better care of Our Common Home.

Pope Francis tells us that “nature is a magnificent book given to us that we might know our creator”. If we are to protect it, we must first value and cherish it

Get involved in the Our Common Home campaign today. Download our resources here, or order our resources from the CAFOD shop.

Step into the Gap: Empowering a generation through youth work around the world

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Gap year volunteers meet with volunteers at Sadaka Reut

Sharon Weerasuriya is spending her year on CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme. Earlier this year, she felt privileged when she was able to visit the Holy Land, where she met with CAFOD’s partners. Here, she shares her reflections from meeting young people when she visited, Sadaka Reut, a youth partnership organisation and one of CAFOD’s partners based in Jaffa, Israel:

While on my international visit to the Holy Land in January this year, I was lucky enough to visit a number of CAFOD’s partners who are working with young people.  One of these partners, Sadaka Reut, is an organisation which brings young Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish Israelis together, encouraging them to unite as one voice to speak up towards social and political change in society.

Sadaka Reut is a community-based organisation. Its foundations are in education, and Sadaka Reut aims to create partnerships by empowering young people and educating them so that they have an awareness of issues that affect them. As a gap year volunteer, I have been based at Castlerigg Manor Youth Centre where I’ve worked with young people and I was intrigued to learn about the young people’s work and life in Sadaka Reut. I began to notice many similarities in the youth work we were both involved in.

Together we can make a difference

When we visited Sadaka Reut, we were able to meet a group of seven Jewish Scouts and two Palestinian young people who were taking part in the Community in Action programme. The programme is a year-long one, where students live together in a community and take part in sessions where they learn about political and social issues, act as counsellors and help out in school activities.

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Volunteers at Sadaka Reut in Jaffa, during a meeting with CAFOD gap year volunteers

I noticed that as a CAFOD gapper, I had a lot of the same motivations as the volunteers I met in the Holy Land; we all want to make a difference in society and to the lives of individuals we encounter. Personally, I love conducting retreats because I get to meet so many young people from different backgrounds who have their own unique story. I am inspired when I see how they use their gifts and talents to positively impact society.  Retreat sessions, in prayer, games and outdoor activities, help young people to become better people and make positive changes in their schools and communities.

This value was shared in Sadaka Reut. Noya, one of the volunteers I met, said: “Everyone realises that closing the gap comes from our understanding of each other.”

I learned that the combination of encountering others and learning about their culture is something that creates partnership. When we encounter each other, we are able to open our minds and acknowledge how we can create positive change by working together – something we might not have considered before.

Creating a community

Another similarity between our lives was community living.  During the Community in Action programme, the group from the scouts lives together – cooking, eating and socialising together. I could relate to this as I live with eight other volunteers at home in Lancaster, which is something I have never experienced before!

I have been able to meet amazing people and share many joys over our individual, funny personalities which bring so much colour and diversity to the team. We also learn so much from each other. The Scouts at Sadaka Reut share my positive experience of living within a community. The group joked that Noa from the team was the messiest. But Noa enjoys being given the opportunity to meet people she might not otherwise come across. Sihalm, another volunteer, said she had sometimes found it difficult to live in the community, but she feels as if she is a part of the group. Wherever we are in the world, we can see that community life can be challenging, but also a blessing and an experience we can learn from.

Finding a common ground

At Sadaka Reut, their projects and youth work revolve around educating young people and building bridges between the Jewish and Palestinian communities in Israel who are influenced by civil inequalities and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They work hard to overcome challenges in society for future generations by breaking down stereotypes, taboos and injustices. They work to understand the commonalities that bring the two groups together as young people, rather than focusing on what sets them apart.

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Sharon, a CAFOD gapper.

This is different to Castlerigg, where we are lucky to live peacefully and focus on teaching young people how they can use their faith, gifts and talents to make society a better place. But the underlying theme of our work is that in Castlerigg and at Sadaka Reut; we are working together to help create a better future for the people we meet by focusing on empowerment and education.

Seeing how CAFOD’s support can make a change in these young people’s lives has inspired me. The experience has taught me that despite the challenges we face from society or any other restrictions, if you have the will, commitment and positive mind-set social change through partnership can be brought about.

Applications for Step into the Gap are now open. Find out more and apply today.