St John’s, Bridgnorth launch Live Simply


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. 


St Alban’s School write messages of hope

Cecilia Davison from St Alban’s in Macclesfield writes about the wonderful opportunity she had to take the Lampedusa Cross in to the Parish Primary School.

As a member of St Alban’s (Macclesfield) Justice & Peace Group, on Monday 4 July I children-holding-crosshad the privilege of taking the Lampedusa Cross to St Alban’s Primary School during the week one of such crosses was staying at our Parish.

I was given the opportunity of leading Morning Assembly, and aided by a short presentation we had a very lively, interactive, and moving discussion about the plight of the refugees.

Prayers and messages of hope were mentioned as ways of showing compassion and support for all displaced people, and on leaving assembly the children were allowed to gently touch the cross from Lampedusa to show their sorrow and respect.

After the other children left, the G.I.F.T. team had the opportunity to hold the cross and to listen to more stories about fleeing families.

assemblyWith the full support of Mrs Teresa Cooke, St Alban’s Headteacher, the G.I.F.T. team took the responsibility over the following weeks, for encouraging other children to:

  • write messages of hope and
  • participate in prayers organised by the team.

G.I.F.T. stands for Growing In Faith Together, a Chaplaincy type of initiative, which Shrewsbury Diocese has recently launched in 5 of its schools (4 Primary – St Alban’s; St Bernadette; St Mary’s; St Paul’s, and 1 Secondary All Hallows). It is aimed at children who have already received their First Communion, and at present at St Alban’s there are 5 Year 5 and 1 Year 6 girls making up the team led by Mrs Mónika Zorengi. They meet for 20 min every Friday lunchtime.

With the cooperation of teachers (Mrs Rhodes from Year 6 in particular), the team not only wrote messages themselves, but invited friends to do so. In total the G.I.F.T. team, gathered 40 cards, which they were very happy to pass onto to me on Monday 24 October, when I was invited back to the school.

In October they also organised occasions of prayer for the refugees. As October is the month of the Rosary, they prayed the whole rosary over three lunchtimes. They chose rosary-of-lightsto meditate on the Mysteries of Light, and they would switch on a candle every time they prayed either ‘Our Father’, ‘Hail Mary’ or ‘Glory be…’. As they were in the playground ‘building’ the rosary as they prayed everyone who wanted to join them was made welcome and at times they had more than 20 children praying together. It was at such times that some children also wrote their messages of hope.

One more idea from one of the girls in the G.I.F.T. team was to use the picture of the Lampedusa Cross to finish their rosary, as a reminder that their prayers were being offered up for the refugees.

It was simply wonderful for me to have had this opportunity. Thank you to all, especially Keith Taylor, and Bridget Fenwick for this!