St Mary’s School, Shaftesbury, learn about the Lampedusa Cross

During a recent visit to St Mary’s School in Shaftesbury by CAFOD staff member David Brinn, students learned about the Lampedusa Cross.

Look! Eritrea & Somalia are just here.

They heard how Sicilian carpenter Francesco Tuccio made rough crosses from the wreckage of a boat that sank off the island of Lampedusa. The boat carried 500 refugees from Eritrea and Somalia – 349 people died. The crosses were offered to survivors as a symbol of their rescue and a sign of hope

An example of a Lampedusa Cross now stands in the British Museum.

Students with the Lampedusa Cross


CAFOD is inviting supporters to write messages of hope for refugees. This was part of our work on the Year of Mercy and especially thinking about the corporal work of mercy of “Welcome the Outsider”.

Step into the GAP: James finishes his CAFOD Gap year placement at St Mary’s Catholic Academy in Blackpool

James Ronan 24, has written a reflective piece about finishing Step into the Gap, sharing stories of Cambodia, his highlights and what his hopes are for a future career.

The time has come to say farewell to Blackpool and St Mary’s Catholic Academy. What an incredible year! Moving from rural Devon to Blackpool as a CAFOD volunteer, has been the biggest step in my life so far. Arriving at the Gap in Blackpool meant moving to a new area, not knowing anybody and starting a new life.  The year has all worked out well with so many  amazing experiences.  I have made new friends and met many inspiring people,most notably in Cambodia with my fellow CAFOD gappers.

This year, it has been great to be able to share CAFOD’s work this year by working in the Diocese of Lancaster whilst living in the Presbytery as part of the parish at St John Vianney. I was an absolute joy to work at St Mary’s as part of the chaplaincy team; I have been left with many fond memories of the team and the work we have achieved this year. Highlights included the co-organisation, in October 2016, of the 6th form Climate debate as part of CAFOD’s Speak Up campaign with our guest MPs Paul Maynard (Conservative Party member for Blackpool North and Cleveleys) and Gordon Marsden (Labour Party member for Blackpool South). I also led sessions with Year 7 pupils about the Refugee crisis the significance of the Lampedusa cross. In conjunction with the Chaplaincy Team I presented  assemblies to college forms when we discussed Justice January and CAFOD’s renewable energy campaign Power to Be.

Visiting Cambodia visit in January heightened my understanding of CAFOD’s work overseas. Whilst in Devon I had fundraised a lot for CAFOD (over £7,000) without fully understanding the impact such fundraising was having. Seeing at first-hand the difference fundraising had made over the years has heightened and affirmed my view of the impact made in Cambodia by CAFOD engendered community support in England and Wales.

CAFOD Gappers alongside their interpreter for their first week, Signha former director of CAFOD Partner Village Support Group.

I will never lose my fond memories of the Cambodian people we visited during our time in Battambang and Siem Reap who were so welcoming and CAFOD’s partners Village Support Group and Srer Khmer with whom we spent time.

Prayers and representations of our CAFOD sharing across this year.

Following my return to the UK, the last few months of my placement have been about sharing CAFOD campaigns, fundraising, and sharing the inspirational stories of the people with whom I spent time in Cambodia. In May I visited the CAFOD Plymouth Schools Volunteers to share about my Cambodia experiences which I later also shared with parishioners after Mass at my former parish church in Tavistock.

As well as sharing my CAFOD Step into the Gap experiences this year with students, parishioners and CAFOD volunteers, I have also shared my CAFOD gap year work experiences with British and American Actors. In May I shared my CAFOD gap year experiences with actress Hannah Spearritt (S Club 7) and actor Andrew-Lee Potts (from ITVs Primeval) at a comic convention in Huddersfield. In June,  I shared with British actor Paul Blackthorne (TV show Arrow) and American actress Danielle Panabaker (TV show The Flash) at a convention in Blackpool; so it has been a fantastic year of sharing and talking about CAFOD’s work with others and relating the important stories of the Cambodian people I met and my work as a CAFOD Gapper at St Mary’s.

More recently from the 7th to the 9th of July in Oxford the CAFOD gappers had a final weekend get together, for our final evaluation and celebration. The weekend was fantastic. All of us Gappers went out for a meal on the Friday evening which was a good opportunity to catch up about our CAFOD work and share experiences.

CAFOD Gappers for 2016-2017 in Oxford

An International CAFOD Staff Event

Held by CAFOD Clifton in the Parish Hall, of St Bonaventure’s Church on
13th July 2016. CAFOD office volunteer Robert Muston shares his experience of the day.

It was hosted by Liz Baldwin, CAFOD Community Participation Co-ordinator for CAFOD Clifton who started the proceedings by giving a brief outline of the day.

Rachel McCarthy, CAFOD Head Office

Liz then handed over the event to facilitator Rachel McCarthy from CAFOD Head Office London who introduced the visiting speakers:


Dominic Carroll

Dominic Carroll CAFOD Country Representative for Bangladesh and Afghanistan, based at CAFOD head office in London, Romero House.

 Kayode Akintola


Kayode Akintola CAFOD Country Representative for Sierra Leone and Liberia based in  Freetown, Sierra Leone,

Conor Molloy


and Conor Molloy CAFOD Country Representative for Ethiopia, based in Addis Ababa.


SESSION 1This started with a prayer and a reading from St Luke’s Gospel 7: 36-50, where Mary Magdalen anoints the feet of Jesus.

Working at tables of 4-6 people we were asked when in our work with CAFOD, we had focussed time and attention on someone; and then when someone had focused time and attention on themselves?
In our discussions we found that we focus on whatever or whomever engages our sympathy in any circumstance of life and consideration of the issues of the time such as famine in Ethiopia, various environmental issues famines and modern day slavery.

Questions to the speaker

From the people we meet we get a taste of the hardships and feel motivated to help them to change things for themselves. As an antidote to the present materialism, abandonment of religious belief or its complete separation from daily life, the Pastoral Cycle becomes an important feature of any ‘development education’.


Before the 2 Group sessions there were short introductions from each of our CAFOD Visitors asking us when and how, in your work at CAFOD have you been challenged or stretched through an encounter or dialogue (e.g. in Laudato Si’)

A lot of this group session was concerned with what is happening now, particularly as much of this was well known from as long ago as the 1960s. Since then materialism has become increasingly widespread, along with the abandonment of a consideration for others. Increasingly the world’s resources have become available more to the affluent Western World at the expense of world’s poor.

The new proposed abandonment of the present Fair Trade movement is jeopardising the livelihoods of many who were benefitting from being able to sell their produce at a fair price, and receiving grants. A new version of ‘fair trade’ will again favour the large (multinational) companies who, with their version of fair trade, will remove the freedom of people to receive bonuses to spend as they think fit, according to their needs and the needs of the local communities. Sainsbury is a prominent party in this new movement!

Laudato Si’ challenges us to link the environmental, social and economic concerns to move to a development model that benefits all in every sphere of life.

Further ideas from our discussion.

Ethiopia – the dialogue with women empowers them to become integrated with the men, and vice versa, being able to share the concerns and work, each according to their abilities and expertise, and the circumstances. It might mean that men sometimes do more of the domestic work, sharing some or all the tasks.


People who are in development situations must continue, spend time thinking about the their particular needs and issues so that they may devise and promote a considered and just solution.

Group discussion

We learned of practices of forest clearance which often leads to a denudation of soil fertility. Such practices must change.  Here education is essential, and is provided through group study for local farmers, with CAFOD and other aid agencies.

For example – the problem of drainage into rivers, – where a river on its course gets more and more pollution from e.g. washing, sewage, waste food, pesticides, fertilisers. The solution is to dig wells, to get clean water from wells or water holes instead of a polluted disease-bearing river. Water-borne diseases are a common consequence.

The impact of on the people, and the environment, of wells and storage, also has to be assessed. It’s necessary to engage with communities and think through all the consequences, and dialogue with all who are affected by such developments.

Development Agencies were mentioned who are or could be in partnership with CAFOD, (a subset of the international agency Caritas International).