Harvest Fast Day

The very first Family Fast Day was held 57 years ago, on Friday 11 March 1960, when volunteer members of the National Board of Catholic Women raised funds for a Dominica mother and baby clinic.


selected seeds ready for planting

This year’s Harvest Fast Day is on Friday 6 October, and focuses on the work our partners are doing in El Salvador. Use our Fast Day resources to let everyone in your parish know it is Harvest Fast Day, and invite them to get involved through fundraising and praying.

Edelmira and Martir are farmers in El Salvador. As they live on and depend on their land, the harvest they reap is vital if they are to have food to put on the table, and have enough left over to sell. The money they earn from this harvest is then used to buy clothes, medicine and other essential items.

CAFOD, working in partnership with Solidaridad CVX, work with farmers like Edelmira and Martir to provide training and reintroduce native seeds used generations ago. These indigenous seeds are strong and fertile having evolved in this region over millennia to be able to grow well in the warm, rainy climate, This ensures that the farmers will be able to harvest crops, and become confident that they will provide their families both with food and a modest income.


To enable our partners to work with more farmers like Edelmira and Martir, across the world, please do use the CAFOD resources and invite your parish to get involved this Harvest Fast Day.

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