During June and July last year parishioners from all three of our churches in North Walsham, Aylsham and Hoveton met to reflect on Pope Francis' encyclical "Laudato Sii. Central to his message is how we see our role in the world that conforms with the vision of St Francis of Assisi.
Stephen Matthews from CAFOD helped lead these sessions using the CAFOD study guide and then encouraged us to work together to gain a CAFOD LiveSimply Award, which would involve the parish in trying to live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor. "
We formed a steering committee with Fr James Walsh and members from the three churches get together monthly to plan a project for each month and a list of hopefully helpful suggestions for living more simply which have been compiled from the suggestions put forward to us by our parishioners.
One of our main projects is to live in solidarity with the poor and we have started by concentrating our efforts on this as we towards our Live Simply Award.
A couple of parishioners attended a forum of voluntary and statutory agencies offering services for refugees and asylum seekers and thought that "English+' provided an identifiable service that we could support. We organized a collection of bicycles, hoovers and tools for the refugees and stored them in Fr James' garage until English+ were able to organise a van to collect them.
In October, parishioners Rob and Clare Hardie undertook a pilgrimage in the Footsteps of St Paul which took them to the Greek islands of Kos and Rhodes where they met Fr John Luke Gregory, a Franciscan Priest of the Custody of the Holy Land, who is the Parish Priest on Rhodes and Kos. He, with the help of some parishioners, has almost single-handedly been caring for the needs of the thousands of refugees who have managed to escape from Syria and survive the treacherous crossing from Turkey to land on these Greek islands where they are now stuck in camps with no prospect of moving further into Europe.
Fr John Luke was given a gift of £2000 from the Parish along with letters of support to the refugees from the children of St Francis of Assisi School in Norwich who had been learning about the Lampedusa Cross and the refugee crisis. He was quite overwhelmed and extremely grateful
We already have a very well-established twinning with St Francis Xavier Parish in Svay Sisophon, Cambodia and several members of our Parish have visited our twinned Parish and others continue to make an annual visit for mutual, spiritual and practical help. We have two Cambodian Style Mass celebrations during the year timed to coincide with Feast Days in Cambodia
During Advent we concentrated on our local Foodbanks in Norwich and Cromer and the Parish wholeheartedly got behind the idea of the Reverse Advent Calendar. People were asked to collect 25 items over 25 days from the list supplied by the Foodbanks. We collected 72 boxes many with more than the 25 items and delivered them to the Foodbanks for onward distribution to the needy local families. We also encouraged Parishioners to choose CAFOD World Gifts for their Christmas presents for friends and families this year.
We start the New Year concentrating on Living Simply with ideas for not wasting food, and not buying more than we need.
Pictured above is Clare Hardie presenting Fr John Luke Gregory with letters and a donation from the Sacred Heart Parish.