COVID-19 Update

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CAFOD Supporters taking action against Climate Change

Thank you for your patience while we take on board the changing situation with COVID-19 and the incredibly important role you play in support of our development and humanitarian work.

Thanks to your compassion and commitment, we can reach some of the poorest and marginalised communities around the world.

Volunteer offices closed (for now) – but there are still many ways to get involved

CAFOD is following the advice issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales (CBCEW) as well as the UK government.

Following the government’s advice, we have taken the decision to cancel all face-to-face events and meetings and have closed all regional offices until at least June.

All the latest information about CAFOD’s response to COVID-19 will be on our Coronavirus Q & A and COVID-19: Information for volunteers pages.

Get in touch: All your usual local office contacts will still be available by mobile phone, email and via social media, so if you have any questions or thoughts do not hesitate to be in touch whatever your query:

Patrick Gardner        Email: pgardner@cafod.org.uk       Mobile: 07920 565 454         

Emma Nolan            Email: enolan@cafod.org.uk          Mobile: 07769 931 373

Online worship

With the Coronavirus pandemic causing masses to be cancelled, there are now lots of parishes and cathedrals offering virtual worship.

You can find out more information about local live-streamed services at The Diocese of Lancaster website.

We’ve also created a ‘Children’s Liturgy Live!’ session which will take place every Sunday to help families to worship in their own homes.

Online resources

If you’re looking for community, we have a CAFOD community group on Facebook. Please do join and invite others to do the same.

If you’re a parent, we have a large range of online education resources tailored specifically for primary and secondary ages, alongside worship and prayer content.

If you’re looking to learn more about CAFOD’s international work, we will be releasing a weekly timetable of online talks.

Feel-good stories

If you are a CAFOD volunteer and hear of a great story in your local parish – please let us know so we can share it on our social media channels and website.

It would be great if you would be able to email over a few sentences about what happened, along with a photo.

Prayer for the Coronavirus

Even though the volunteer centres are temporarily shut, we hope to be able to continue to offer opportunities to connect with the lives of our sisters and brothers around the world. 

Please keep an eye on our social media pages for the latest updates:

Find us on Facebook  and and Twitter at CAFOD in Lancaster.

In the meantime, we continue to pray for all those affected by the COVID-19 virus and the healthcare workers here in the UK and overseas, who are on the frontline of this crisis – and ask that you too join us in keeping them in our thoughts and prayers.

Lancaster Diocese invited to join virtual prayer for global community on the frontline of Coronavirus

In the face of lockdown, communities have been pulling together to adapt and connect in new ways.

We’ve been amazed at how you, our supporters, have come together – whether it be through the facebook community or at the Sunday Children’s Liturgy – and we have lots of virtual ways to keep you updated and connected to our global communities.

Our first virtual mass

Places of worship were among some of the many places forced to close as part of the fight in tackling the spread of COVID-19 but thanks to live-steaming technology, the Catholic community can still ‘congregate’ during the lockdown.

We decided to hold our first ever live-steamed mass yesterday. The mass, was celebrated by Fr Liam Hayes, and took place on Wednesday 1 April at 6pm.

In addition to the CAFOD mass, local parishes and Cathedrals are also live-streaming services throughout the week. In Lancaster Diocese there are services online and you can find out about others across the country

Praying beyond mass

Sister Consilia Munkuli, at prayer.

Our Theology team have published prayers on our website for all those affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.  

We are also holding an online prayer and reflection session, followed by a virtual coffee morning.  

Beginning at 11 am, we will be welcoming supporters from across the country to join us in prayer and there will be time to break out and discuss afterwards.

Please join us on Tuesday 7 April, 11 am-12 pm – and remember your brew! Sign up here: Prayer and chat

Online talks: COVID-19 and the impact on international development

COVID-19 has now spread to every continent except Antarctica with confirmed cases in several African and Asian countries where CAFOD works.

We are now hearing about the catastrophic situations that will arise if there was an outbreak of COVID-19 in developing countries with weaker healthcare systems, or in a refugee camp with limited handwashing facilities.

Through the church, we can reach communities that others can’t – and you can find out more on Thursday 2 April, 11 am-12 pm. Sign up here: COVID-19 and the impact on international development.

Final thoughts

Catholic youth campaigners represent UK at international event | ICN

We would really like to stay connected and reach out to our wider Lancaster community. Do let us know if you’ve heard of any heart-warming stories from any Lancaster parishes that we could share or if you have any ideas about how to bring our community together.

Step into the Gap: Embarking on our overseas adventure

Rebecca, one of three Step into the Gap volunteers in Lancaster Diocese, is about to depart for her overseas trip to Cambodia. We asked her how she is feeling, how she is preparing for her trip and to reflect on the year so far. Rebecca writes:

Rebecca (far right) with this year’s team of CAFOD Step into the Gap volunteers

I decided from a visit to Abbotswick House of Prayer that spending a gap year at a Catholic Retreat Centre, gaining skills working with young people and being creative with how we talked to them about faith would be extremely exciting. I researched into the CAFOD gap year after that and thought that the overseas experience, as well as the role of bringing CAFOD’s work into retreats, would be a fantastic opportunity for me.  

When starting to think about writing this pre-departure blog, I began to think about the process I went through to take part in Step Into the Gap as a whole. It all started last August when I was fortunate enough to spend some time at Abbotswick house. I had decided in my second year of Uni that I wanted to take a gap year after graduating and was in the process of thinking about what I might like to do for it.  

It has been a whirlwind so far after graduating, and the retreat centre work has kept me busy! It has been fun to have two single focuses: being Castlerigg and CAFOD that I can put my energy into. Working to meet short deadlines has been completely different to Uni, where I was managing larger projects. I have no doubt that Cambodia will be another whirlwind experience for me. But I also do not doubt that it will be something I will treasure for a long time.  

Rebecca with the team of volunteers at Castlerigg

Reading about CAFOD’s work and learning more through preparing workshops has been extremely interesting so far. So, to actually have the chance to see first-hand the work CAFOD are doing to help people help themselves in local communities in Cambodia will be surreal but in an informative, interesting and exciting way. The thought I had back in August 2018 is now becoming a reality. Once I am packed and sure I have everything I could need, all that will be left to do is to make the most of the experience!  

After our international prep weekend, I am now more aware of just how rare this sort of opportunity is, and how worthwhile it can be. I know that the Step into the gap programme is designed to develop leadership skills, and I am excited to face challenges and grow through them whilst in Cambodia and afterwards as a result. I am especially looking forward to improving my initiative, knowledge, environmental awareness, teamwork skills, ability to adapt to new situations and enjoy the experience but gain from it too. Another thing I am intrigued about is how we will all get on and work together as a group. I think there is a real mix of characters and I am excited to get to know people better and work with them all!! 

As well as getting to know fellow team members, I am excited to meet and spend time with people from all the different areas of Cambodia. I am excited to see what Phnom Penh, Veal Veng, Pursat, Battambang, Krokor and Siem Reap are like to live in. I am interested in seeing how the charities COCD and KBO fulfill their work. I am aware that the people I will meet will be able to teach me a lot and I can be inspired by their work in practice. I am particularly excited to meet people working for KBO, as I am intrigued by the work that they do to help disabled persons. It is something that has become much closer to my heart after spending time working at a camp for people with special needs over Summer. I am also excited to gain a deeper understanding of the youth in the different areas, in terms of how their culture may differ to the culture of the young people I come across during retreats! It will be such a great experience to be able to feedback to my team at Castlerigg and the young people we get here, just simply what similarities and differences there are in culture between England and Cambodia. I am also going to set a goal for myself to learn as many simple Cambodian phrases as I can during my time there and to remember them afterwards!!  

I am also excited to experience my faith in a new way. During the past few months, I have realised how powerful prayer can be. I now know just how strong it is that I can be anywhere in the world and pray, knowing that God is there to support me through the ups and downs that I come across. I am excited to travel with God beside me to Cambodia and learn from others in their faith whilst I am there. 

Below is a picture of the CAFOD prayer space we had during the International Prep weekend. The prayer time we had for reflection and bringing together our anxieties as well as aspirations for the International visit was a really powerful aspect of the preparation, and I am glad that we are doing the visit with God at the centre of our collective thoughts and actions.  

A CAFOD prayer space

Apply to Step into the Gap today