Chicken triumph again!

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Sue Bownas from the CAFOD Chester Support group writes below of a tradition at Easter for the Chester communities.

For several years now the Chester CAFOD Support Group has raised hundreds of pounds each Easter thanks to Judy one of our founder members who  has been responsible for the annual preparation and sale of Easter Chickens. During lent a team of knitters led by Judy have created the rare breeds, whilst parishioners have been invited to provide the chocolate eggs that will fill them. Then ten days before Easter, the chickens go on sale, and it is over to the wonderful staff and pupils/ students at St Clare’s Primary School and Chester Catholic High school, and our fantastic parishioners to play their part by buying these amazing chicks.  

However, 2017 it seemed would be different; with Judy not able to lead us, it looked as though  Easter would be “chicken free” this year. 

That was to underestimate the strength of the team built up over the years!  A new leader emerged and soon a  team of knitters were at work and the annual request for chocolate eggs appeared in the parish newsletter,  and this lovely “tradition” was secured for another year.  Despite us having less time, ( with a later than usual start and the need for earlier sales in the schools as they broke up for Easter on 31 March) chickens of every hew and breeds, never before seen,  started to hatch and supplies sent to the schools for sale, and then with one week to go , we were completely sold out of chickens. 

 Our huge thanks go to all concerned: our generous and loyal knitters, fillers and buyers all made sure this annual sale happened again and, as a result, they have raised £ 542 for CAFOD’s Emergency Appeal for countries affected by famine in East Africa.

Find out more about our East Africa crisis appeal

 Although the needles are once again still, there is talk of us  making an earlier start next year …….”

 

St John’s, Bridgnorth launch Live Simply

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Paul and Clare Cooper from St John’s Church in Bridgnorth record the minutes from their first meeting to launch the Live Simply award in the parish

The morning began with Meet and Greet and coffee. A total of 20 people attended.

Fr Iain began the meeting with the Live Simply Prayer.

Mary Gilbert presented a short video about how the Live Simply Campaign has been taken up in other parishes around the country, which included examples of specific projects that groups were working on and the benefits that had been brought, not only to others, but to those involved.

Watch the video

Mary explained the principles of the Campaign which covered three areas titled ‘living simply’, ‘living sustainably’ and ‘living in solidarity’. We were shown resources such as ‘100 Ideas’ and the Live Simply Hymn from the CAFOD web site:

Discussion followed about what we were already doing as a parish, such as supporting the Bridgnorth food bank, Mary’s meals, SVP sick visiting and lifts to Mass, among other activities. Post-it notes were provided for people to discuss with others in the meeting what they did at home as individuals or families to contribute towards living simply, sustainably and in solidarity with others. Further ideas were encouraged to create momentum for possible projects.

John Gilbert collated all the ideas and presented a summary of the different categories

It was proposed to sign up as a parish to Live Simply and work towards the award. The vote was unanimous and Fr. Iain backed the proposal.

Fr. Iain also commented on some of the attractive ideas suggested in the ‘100 Ideas’ list including:-

  1. CAFOD World Gifts / Christmas cards for sale in Church
  2. Feast of St Francis Liturgy
  3. Create a quiet contemplation space at the side of the Church and include bird feeders, bird/ bat boxes etc
  4. Consider using a Credit Union
  5. Cook a meal from scratch using only local ingredients

Find out more about how to become a Live Simply parish

Mary went on to show an example of an action plan for the award and discussed the time span and eventual assessment in order to achieve the award. She suggested that we would need to set up a Steering Group to take the ideas forward. Most thought they would like more time to consider and it was agreed that we would have another meeting specifically to create a Steering Group and to develop our ideas.

The meeting ended with Holy Mass.

Chester students complete pilgrimage to Rome in solidarity with refugees

To mark the beginning of Lent, a selection of students studying at The University of Chester made a five-day pilgrimage to the Italian capital, carrying a cross carved from the driftwood of refugee boats.

The students, who are part of the Catholic society, decided to dedicate their annual pilgrimage to the refugee crisis after being inspired by the Lampedusa Cross. 

Learn more about the Lampedusa Cross

The cross, which is carved from the wreckage of refugee boats, was made by Italian carpenter Francisco Tuccio, after meeting survivors from a refugee boat disaster which killed over 300 people. During their trip, the students held a Lampedusa service which involved a prayer service and a discussion. 

“The Lampedusa service was a beautiful way to remember the challenges refugees face both overseas and in the UK and reminded us that we need to do more to support the millions of refugees.” said Vice President, Siobhan Doyle, who is currently in her fourth year studying International development and Spanish.

Take action on the refugee crisis  

With the Cross

“We noticed that Italy had a different approach to the refugee crisis, there were posters around the airport about supporting refugees; this was an interesting point as during our discussion, we talked about the challenges refugees face regarding mental health, which is often forgotten about.”

Joseph Barnes, a first-year Politics student added: “Our service for refugees was very powerful and reminded us all to always welcome the stranger.”

During their time in Rome, the students were blessed to have an audience with Pope Francis. Jacob Hutchinson, a third-year Theology and Religious Studies student and President of the society said: “When having the honour to listen to Pope Francis, he asked the question ‘is it better to be an atheist rather than a bad Catholic?’ This struck me because I felt I was not doing enough to help organisations and communities, especially in Chester and throughout the UK, who work with refugees. So, with the words of Pope Francis still fresh, my Lenten challenge is to find an organisation and do my part in helping refugees in any way I can.”

The students also wrote messages to send to refugees. Third-year Primary Education student, Sarah Mather said, “writing messages to refugees was a thoughtful and beautiful way of showing God’s love across the world.”

Write your own message of hope to send to refugees 

CAFOD have now collected over 33,000 messages of hope to send to refugees around the world and we continue to help our partners to develop programmes to aid refugees in Syria, and surrounding countries, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece.