Father David Bagstaff and CAFOD’s parish volunteer, Judith Tooth, together with a crowd of people of all ages in the parish came forward to accept this coveted award on Sunday 14 May. The third parish to win the award in East Anglia.
The award was given by CAFOD in recognition of the high levels of engagement through the parish with Catholic Social Teaching from Pope Paul VI to Pope Francis. The award recognises how the parish together are living simply, sustainably, and in solidarity with the poorest people on earth.
“There is a definite process here, spiritual development and plans for wider engagement”
The two assessors, Bernard Shaw from St Philip Howard parish, and Pat Keating from Our Lady in Stowmarket, put the parish representatives through a rigorous check.
In giving the award Bernard said: “I was impressed by how parishioners at St Henry Morse church were building on a special week of action that they had held earlier this year; there is a definite process here, spiritual development and plans for wider engagement.
“I particularly liked the work they did with the local foodbank, and the inclusion of concern for the earth and for its people in the bidding prayers, which are written by parishioners”.
During the assessment members of the church reported how they had risen to the challenge of eating less meat, becoming vegan, buying organic food and growing their own, using less water and not always flushing the toilet – actions that gave them a financial benefit as well as preserving precious resources for others.
“We began after we had studied Pope Francis’ teaching, Laudato Si’”
The church of St Henry Morse is a new building, which incorporates a ground source heat pump and solar thermal heating panels so the carbon footprint is as small as possible. With the heating and hot water provided on site, the church only needs a little electricity, which it gets from renewable sources thanks to the diocese switching to renewable energy through the Interdiocesan Fuel Management scheme.
One couple became interested in beekeeping and their enthusiasm spread across the parish. A group of parishioners went on a beekeeping course, built a bee hive, set it up in the parish grounds and a few days ago they a donated swarm of bees arrived to live in the hive. They are now looking for another swarm for their second hive. The youth group created some wildflower beds so the bees had flowers throughout the year.
Judith Tooth explained: “We chose not to rush into the assessment; although we could simply treat it as a checklist we didn’t want to do that. We began after we had studied Pope Francis’ teaching, Laudato Si’, as a parish over four weeks in November 2015. We have certainly gained momentum this year. We have built on other activities that we were already involved with, for instance we have an annual pilgrimage from Quidenham to Diss. It is a pilgrimage in celebration of God’s creation, and this year as part of our LiveSimply week of action, we walked in solidarity with refugees.”
Father David celebrated the work they were doing and encouraged them: “Let it become part of the Catholic DNA here in St Henry Morse, speaking and acting in favour of the most marginalised. The greatest contribution to this massive challenge of prayer for our common home comes from Pope Francis in his letter, Laudato Si’, praise to my lord. It is a deeply theological contribution.”
The Parish of Most Holy Trinity and St Henry Morse is the twenty fifth in England and Wales to receive the award and the third parish in East Anglia after St Laurence in Cambridge and Our Lady in Stowmarket. Two other parishes in our diocese are currently pursuing this award.
Bishop Hopes is inviting people priests, deacons, and parishioners to join him for a special day, arranged by CAFOD and reflecting on Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ on Friday 30 June, in the Cathedral. If you want to find out more about this event and if you are interested in hearing from those that are becoming LiveSimply parishes, please visit: https://laudatosisummit.eventbrite.co.uk