Chicken triumph again!

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 …….”


Lampedusa Cross reaches St Vincent’s, Altrincham

Terry Morris, the Parish Volunteer in St Vincent’s writes about the installation of the Lampedusa Cross in their Lady Chapel and the actions they took as a parish community.

The cross was brought by CAFOD Shrewsbury Co-ordinator, Bridget Fenwick from Our St Vincent's_CrossLady and St Joseph’s Parish, Wallasey and received at the Friday 12.15 Mass by Terry and Brenda Morris for installation by Father Keith. Brenda Gough  provided an imaginative background design and Deacon John Penny gave homilies at  the Saturday evening and Sunday masses:-

Homily Extract

“To truly empty ourselves of selfishness is to share in Christ’s life, enabling us to hold out the hand of friendship and mercy to anyone in need. We have received into our church this simple wooden cross, made by Francesco Tuccio from the wreckage of boats used by refugees who died in their attempt to find freedom and peace. This Lampedusa cross comes to us at the start of the week of prayer for refugees. We will keep a flame burning for all who have lost their lives in the struggle for

Terry Morris (third from left) with some of the St Vincent's CAFOD group.

Terry Morris (third from left) with some of the St Vincent’s CAFOD group.

freedom and you can come here to pray that the Lord will lead us in ways to support refugees and to pray for an end to conflict and an end to the tragic loss of innocent life. There are cards here on which you can write messages of support or draw pictures. These will be sent by our Cafod Justice and Peace Group to refugees so that they know that we are at least thinking of and praying for them.”

Canon John, not long back from Italy, welcomed the installation at our Lady Chapel . Over the weekend he too encouraged parishioners to pray for refugees and migrants, and to write messages of hope to be sent  to them via CAFOD.  A children’s liturgy was held. Prayer card contributors ranged from our most senior parishioners to a drawing by a 2½ year-old! Many heartfelt hopes have been sent on for inclusion in a special diocesan event in Shrewsbury Cathedral  on 12 November.

 A prayer offering

Look with mercy, O Lord, on refugees who, as your own Holy Family once was, are in danger in their homes, in the desert or on the sea. Bring them to safety and a life where no-one will make them afraid. May the Cross of Lampedusa be a symbol of hope for them, and  all who work and pray on their behalf.     Amen.


The pilgrimage continued to Christ Church Parish in Heald Green. One of the many parishes involved, like our own, from Shrewsbury Diocese.





Talk on Syria in Holy Family Church, Sale

Alan Tomlinson, Emergency Programme Manager for Syria Crisis response, shared stories of people trying to survive the worst ever humanitarian crisis, Syria’s civil war. About 50 people listened intently and finished the evening by writing messages of hope to all refugees.

Almost five years after it began, the full-blown civil war has killed over 220,000 people, IMG_7679half of whom are believed to be civilians.

According to the U.N., it will take £5 billion to meet the urgent needs of the most vulnerable Syrians in 2016.

Read more about our work in Syria and the Middle East

The above facts were just two, of the many, Alan shared with us during the evening. He also explained how CAFOD and its partners work in such a complex emergency. During his talk my eyes roamed round the room of 50 plus people and noticed how everyone was completely intent on what he was saying. The facts certainly took hold of us, but it was when parishioners read out the stories of two people caught up in the conflict, that  you could have heard a pin drop.

Take a look at the Lost Family Portraits

IMG_7682After the talk and some well-needed refreshment, we stood together in solidarity with those refugees we had been hearing about and prayed the Refugee Solidarity Pilgrimage.

Pray the Refugee Solidarity pilgrimage

After praying the stages of the pilgrimage around the church, everyone stopped in front of the Lampedusa Cross and wrote a message of hope to all refugees. Amongst the many messages were the following:

‘Know that you are loved. Keep going.’

‘That the peace process started will finally come to fruition. That all people involved will pilgrimage reflection_displaythink of the greater good and not of their own fears and prejudices.’

‘That you will be welcomed and assisted by all those you encounter on your journey and receive care and love’.

All these messages and the messages from parishioners throughout the diocese will be dedicated at a special service in the Cathedral in November (date and time to be confirmed). After this event the messages will all be shared with refugees in the UK or around the world.