9th August is World Indigenous Day

Let’s Save the Heart of the Earth: Stand in solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia this World Indigenous Day

To commemorate World Indigenous Day, we ask you to join a week of solidarity (2-9th August 2020) with the indigenous peoples of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia.

Who are the Indigenous Peoples of the Sierra Nevada and what are they fighting for?

photo 2

“Everything in the world has life. Every living thing that exists on mother earth has a function. If nature dies, there is a natural imbalance and a human imbalance. Nature must be cared for, protected and preserved”.

Alejandro, Wiwa indigenous people.


The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is a mountain range on the Caribbean coast in northern Colombia. For the Indigenous peoples who have lived there for centuries, this natural ecosystem is sacred and represents the Heart of the Earth.

As a result of mining and other large-scale extraction projects, the Heart of the Earth and its guardians – the Arhuaco, Wiwa, Kankuamo and Kogui Peoples – are at risk of being physically and culturally destroyed. Indigenous communities have been forced to abandon their homes due to these projects and the armed conflict and now live in the most challenging parts of the hills. Despite being displaced and facing threats, the indigenous communities are determined to protect their sacred ancestral land. Their ancestral territory recognised as a sacred site in the The Línea Negra[1] decree is currently at risk from a lawsuit that has been filed against the decree, meaning indigenous communities may lose their ancestral territories permanently.

As well as the threats their land, these communities have also been struggling with droughts and forest fires in the area which have made it very difficult to grow enough crops to feed their families. The strict coronavirus quarantine has also meant that communities have been unable to go out to sell their handicrafts, coffee and other agricultural products to earn an income.The continued illegal extraction of gold and other materials during the pandemic puts indigenous communities at great risk of contracting the virus. Food and water supplies are now dangerously low, and people are facing a crisis point.

photo 3

[1] The Línea Negra crosses three Colombian departments La Guajira, Magdalena and Cesar and borders the Caribbean Sea in northern Colombia. The Black Line consists of 348 sacred sites and is officially recognized by Decree 1500 (2018) issued by former Colombian President Santos.

Protecting Our Common Home

The Arhuaco, Wiwa, Kankuamo and Kogui believe that all the beings of this unique ecosystem are interconnected: land, sea, plants, animals, rocks, water, wind, fire, stones, minerals and that these must be protected to maintain balance and preserve our Common Home.

Through their ancestral wisdom, indigenous communities have looked after the unique and complex ecosystem of the Sierra Nevada which is recognised by UNESCO as vital for the life of our entire planet. Ecosystems like these are fundamental to balance the effects of climate change.

Their asks to the Colombian government:

  1. Respect the protection of the Heart of the Earth and the Línea Negra and implement the decree that recognises it.
  2. Stop any new applications for mining and other extractive activities that are destroying their ancestral territory, and withdraw all existing titles.

3.Put in place measures for healing and restoration of harmony in their territory.

World Indigenous Day

On 9 August we commemorate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Article 8 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states:1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture. 2. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for: (a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities; (b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources; (c) Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights; (d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration; (e) Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite racial or ethnic discrimination directed against them.

Join our week of solidarity with the indigenous people of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.   Salvemos el Corazón del Mundo- Let’s save the Heart of the Earth!



Deacon donates all book profits to CAFOD’s coronavirus response

blog 1Deacon Sean Loone from Our Lady of the Wayside Parish, Shirley, Birmingham, shares why he decided to donate all the profits from his book: ‘Only in the Crucified God – Questions and Answers on Faith, Hope and Love’ to CAFOD’s coronavirus response.

Realising my role as a deacon during lockdown

A deacon is a man called by Christ to be his servant in the world, after all it was Jesus himself who said, ‘I am among you as one who serves’ (Luke 22:27).

Traditionally the deacon is called to serve God and his people in three ways: as a servant of the alter, word, and charity.

However, everything changed when lockdown happened.

Deacons were not allowed to exercise their ministry as a servant of the altar, as priests were instructed to celebrate mass by themselves.

Becoming a ‘Servant of charity’

For me, my ministry as a deacon always had to have a practical element to it, so the first thing I did was to volunteer as a NHS responder.

I also approached the local supermarket, Morrison’s and asked them whether they would consider donating food to the Saint Chad’s Sanctuary in Birmingham, which provides support for asylum seekers and refugees.

Could you support our Coronavirus Appeal which is working to support refugees around the world?

In this way I could fulfil that aspect of my ministry inviting me to be a servant of charity.

Fulfilling the calling to be a ‘Servant of the word’


Lockdown also provided me with more time to spend with the Lord in prayer, study, and reflection out of which emerged the second element of my ministry, the calling to be servant of the word.


This gave way to the completion of a project I had been working on for some time: a book called ‘Only In the Crucified God – Questions on Faith, Hope and Love.’


To understand the nature of this project here is an extract, about what the book hopes to achieve:


This is a book about having somewhere to turn when life gets hard. At its heart is the belief that ‘Only In the Crucified God,’ can the ultimate truth be found. Using God’s word and his own insight on life the author invites us to explore our own experiences in the light of crucified love.


I felt that such a book given the dark and challenging times we were all living through was much needed.

Caring for our global brothers and sisters

Finally, one day as I prayed something happened and I can only describe it as a revelation from Our Lord. I would publish my book and donate all of the profits to CAFOD.

So, I made direct contact with them and simply asked the question, ‘Would they be interested?’

Their response was an overwhelming ‘Yes please,’ especially in the light of the devastating effect COVID-19 was having in the poorest countries on earth, amidst people least able to cope with it.

I am now, thankfully, back in the parish and once again exercising my ministry as a servant at the altar but I will be eternally grateful for the grace, which guided me throughout my period of lockdown to serve God and his people as a servant of His Word and as a servant of Charity.

‘Only in the Crucified God – Questions and Answers on Faith, Hope and Love‘ is available here.


Harvest Fast Day Planning Meetings 2020

DSCN3509As the tractors and combines of East Anglia gather in this year’s harvest plans are being made for CAFOD’s Harvest Fast Day on 9th October 2020. As reported in The Tablet  Jo Kitterick, CAFOD’s Head of Fundarising,  said recently,

“With Catholic churches and schools closed and slowly reopening and the financial challenges our churches are managing, further down the line we know that our income will be affected” said Ms Kitterick. “Our Harvest Fast Day takes place on 9th October, and we will do our best to make it a Harvest Fast Day like no other.”

Please do join us for one of our online meetings for Parish Volunteers via Zoom. We are holding a regional one for all six dioceses in the south east on Saturday 19th September from 10.30am to 12 noon with a speaker Maria Gonzalez, CAFOD’s Head of International Development. Booking for this is via Eventbrite, here.

Two other planning meetings will be held jointly with Brentwood Diocese and we’re hoping to book CAFOD speakers for each of them. They are on Friday 18th September at 3pm and Wednesday 23rd September at 8pm. Please do get in touch via emailing jcrone@cafod.org.uk  if you’d like to join us and I’ll send you a Zoom link.