Chester CathSoc announces CAFOD as its charity of the year

Students at Chester University’s Catholic Society, affectionately known by its members as ‘CathSoc’, have recently announced the development charity CAFOD as their charity of the year.

cathsoc launch

Members of Chester CathSoc

One of CAFOD’s local representatives in Chester, Bridget Fenwick, visited a CathSoc meeting to share the work of CAFOD and officially launch the partnership.

The society, a part of Chester University, has previously supported CAFOD by fundraising – organising cake sales and an open mic night – and have taken part in national campaigns by writing and sending messages of hope to refugees.

This year the students will continue to raise money and support the charity in their campaigning efforts.

Kelly Haburigura, Chester CathSoc’s charity co-ordinator, said: “We are honoured to be working with CAFOD as our charity of the year. I hope the partnership will allow our students to become more involved with poverty reduction and to stand up for global justice through their faith.

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CAFOD representative Bridget with members of Chester CathSoc

“As an international development student and devout Catholic, I am excited for this partnership because this is my chance to work on projects I am passionate about. Hopefully, these projects will leave a good impact on people and inspire other Catholic youths to continue to strive for change.”

Bridget Fenwick, CAFOD’s local representative in Chester, added: “It’s great to have this partnership with Chester University’s CathSoc. They are an incredibly passionate group of young people who are visibly putting their faith into action.

“The group have been a great support to us already, and it’s brilliant to be their chosen charity for this academic year. We are really looking forward to seeing how the partnership progresses.”

Find out more about CAFOD

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.