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!

Meet our first area coordinator

Peter is our first area coordinator. He comes each month to the new Volunteer Centre, 70 miles away, to spend time with the Community Participation Coordinator. His monthly visits keep him in touch with what CAFOD is doing. It also means that he can share this with parish volunteers in Kings Lynn deanery.

He has often spoken for CAFOD’s Lent appeals at the end of Mass in St Peter and All Souls, Peterborough. Now he is looking to do this in his deanery in parishes without a local volunteer. He has spoken to the local priest, asking if he might thank parishioners, in person, for their donations to CAFOD. He’ll also be encouraging new volunteers.

Peter reaches out to the three churches in his own parish, as well as his own. He has toured all four churches, speaking about the work that CAFOD is doing in Sebeya through its Connect2:Ethiopia partnership. With Jane, his wife, he hosts an evening meal each year for parishoners to eat, learn more about the scheme, and donate. Peter also enjoys the big campaign moments when CAFOD supporters gather together.

He calls parish volunteers in the deanery to find our how the latest appeal went. He has spoken with campaign volunteers, checking they have all they need to encourage others to sign up to the latest campaign action.  Peter is keen to speak to people and hear about what they are doing.

We now have area coordinators in most of the diocese. We are looking for area coordinators for Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds.

> Find out how you could join our team

Meet our Facebook editor

Regular as clockwork, Andy arrives at the office on his way to work. He gives us an hour and a half each week, updating our Facebook page.

Before Andy arrived, it would be weeks before a new updates, but in the last six months its popularity has risen by 56%. He selects one or two national stories to share, adding a bit of introductory text.

Andy checks the weekly donations to see if there is any parishes or schools that we can be thanking on Facebook. When we have a picture, for example of a parish volunteer, he will add that, cropping it to make it better to see. When we don’t have a picture of the activity or those involved, he will choose a relevant image. Andy uses CAFOD’s photos from our work and adds some thing about how a donation is making a difference.

He has joined in and promoted the Facebook competition for Delia Smith’s cookbooks. He is always eager to do more, giving more time when he can and offering to help with any local events. He keeps encouraging other people, singing their praises on Facebook for us.