Bernard and Mary share their CAFOD stories

Two dedicated CAFOD volunteers shared their thoughts on charity work they have been engaged in for the past years.

Bernard began volunteering for CAFOD 36 years ago. He says:

“I came back to Cambridge after two stints in the states with an agrochemical company and was looking to reintegrate into the community. I had returned from the US in a privileged position financially and wanted to give back. I only joined St. Philip Howard, which was a relatively new parish back then, by accident. I joined SVP and was one of the founding members of our parish’s Justice and Peace group – there are only two of us left now! From that, I got to know a nun who was having problem getting funds to CAFOD, so worked alongside her for a time and through that I came across CAFOD’s education campaign ‘Just Food’.

I would have said that it would be quite unlikely that I would still be volunteering for CAFOD in 30 years time if you’d asked me when I first started! But if my health stands up, I would think I’d still be volunteering in ten years time.”

Mary got involved with CAFOD’s work in the early 1990s, along with her late husband. She recalls:

“In our parish in Downham every mass this wonderful lady, Elsie Travers, would stand with the bucket – the CAFOD bucket we called it! – asking for spare coppers for CAFOD. I got talking to her and she gave me information about CAFOD and so on. She really is one of the reasons I got involved with CAFOD.”

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A look back at 90+ years of Volunteering

What do Bernard, Mary and Sheila have in common? It could be many things, however, one thing they do share is their passion and dedication for CAFOD. Together they have offered more than 90 years of service to the charity and continue to do so to this very day.

Mary, Sheila and Bernard – enjoying tea with the Bishop

Bernard presented with the Papal Blessing by Father Philip

Bernard Shaw began his volunteering journey 36 years ago following his attendance at the First National Pastoral Congress in Liverpool. A chemical engineer by profession, he splits his time between his very own organic garden and volunteering for CAFOD. He became a founding member of the parish of St Philip Howard in 1987 and soon after became the CAFOD parish volunteer. Not only has he been promoting CAFOD at a local level but he has also spread his efforts throughout Cambridge Catholic churches as well as across the Diocese, most recently as a LiveSimply Assessor. His quiet enthusiasm has never wavered and he has constantly surprised CAFOD with his ambition and drive to do more.

Bishop Alan asking Sheila how she first got involved with CAFOD

Former much-loved English teacher, Sheila Dobey, remembers her start within CAFOD in Preston as a supporter for the charity. In the mid-1980s, she moved to Stowmarket where along with two other parishioners, she founded the CAFOD+ Group. Sheila was the local person who kept the group in touch with CAFOD by attending meetings and encouraging their actions. Her efforts have prompted into action the parish of Our Lady in Stowmarket to support CAFOD by raising money for World Gifts (Community Water Supply) and the parish’s latest endeavour, becoming a LiveSimply Parish. She continues to be affected by the needs of people around the world and manages to find a reservoir of energy to dedicate to CAFOD’s noble cause.

Mary Prentice began volunteering for CAFOD, along with her late husband Michael, in the early 1990s after converting to the Roman Catholic Church. While working as a teacher and headmistress, she was able to dedicate countless hours along the years to drive and support many causes for CAFOD. With her husband by her side, she poured her energy into supporting CAFOD, firstly at St Dominic’s parish in Downham Market, and then at Our Lady of Pity in Swaffham where she still serves. Mary was really helpful with her research work for Connect2:Ethiopia project and through her work for CAFOD’s stall at the National Shrine in Walsingham. She continues to show her creative talents through the creation of new prayers and ideas for prayer cards.

Bishop Alan announcing the Papal Blessings

The trio were invited to tea by Bishop Alan last Friday 9th June, who expressed his wish to thank them in person for their continuing services to CAFOD. Following an animated discussion about CAFOD’s role within the Catholic Church, Bishop Alan presented CAFOD East Anglia’s three long-serving volunteers with the Papal Blessing. The Bishop’s very own words to describe the occasion were: “What a good occasion!” A good occasion it was indeed!

Volunteers like these and many others are the crew members that keep the CAFOD ship sailing. They have been there to battle through the waves to bring life, hope and dignity to men, women and children from all around the globe. We salute you!