Another lovely day for a drive to the northern border of our Diocese where it connects with Hallam. I was travelling to meet the CAFOD parish volunteers for Alfreton and Clay Cross. We were meeting for the first time and where better than St Patrick & St Bridget’s in Clay Cross for 10am Mass. I arrived early so joined in saying the Rosary. Close to 30 people were in the congregation so when Fr James Earley arrived to say Mass I asked if I could say a few words at the end and he kindly agreed.
Two verses of ‘For all the saints’ prepared us for celebrating the feast of St Mark and after the welcome, Fr James invited us to sing again, this time to Harold, who was celebrating his 90th Birthday! Sadly, his wife Betty is unwell and in a care home; so please remember them both in your prayers today.
After communion I was able to say a few words; thanking Fr James for giving me the opportunity to thank him and the parish for their continued and sustained support of CAFOD over many years. I also reminded people of the story of CAFOD; our founding mothers and how the generosity of the Catholic community in England in Wales led to the creation of the church’s official aid agency in 1962.
After Mass we departed to Eileen’s house for coffee and biscuits and I asked them how they had come to be parish volunteers for CAFOD. “It was thrust upon me” stated Eileen, “but the community here in Clay Cross are very generous and supportive. I also get the opportunity to speak at Mass.” Eileen also told me about introducing the idea of giving money to CAFOD instead of buying cards at Christmas and this has been going on for many years. For Gloria and Francis, who go to Christ the King in Alfreton, they volunteered about 18 months ago and like Eileen they staple Fast Day envelopes to the newsletter, which are then given out by the welcomers. Gloria told me “it was me who volunteered but my health hasn’t been very good so my husband Francis helps as well. He and Peter also speak at Mass.”
We then talked about our latest campaign, Share the Journey, and how the parish would be able to take part. Eileen told me the Franciscan Convent, St Clare’s, is the starting point for Stations of the Cross, and approximately a mile away, so perhaps a walk to Mass can be planned from there. I look forward to hearing about their plans.
It was a real joy to meet and have the opportunity to get to know Eileen, Gloria, Francis and Peter. Their commitment and dedication not only to CAFOD but to their parish community shone through. And this Family Fast Day the parish donated an amazing £821.26, which will of course be doubled by UK Government!