On Friday 27th June five high schools from across the diocese came to Salford to celebrate their work for CAFOD. The schools which sent groups of students were Loreto High School (Manchester), Brownedge St Mary’s High School (Bamber Bridge), St Augustine’s High School (Billington), Holy Family College, Heywood, and Blessed Trinity High School, Burnley.
All of these schools have strong CAFOD and justice and peace groups or are hoping to set one up in the very near future.
After opening prayers led by Holy Family, Loreto spoke of their campaigning work. This was followed by a visit from Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health Services, who spoke about his experience of entering politics to make a change and becoming an MP, a decision he made at the same age as the students. He encouraged them to believe that they can change things for the better. The students had a range of challenging questions which Andy addressed frankly and in full. The young people were very inspired by this visit. The students followed this with excellent presentations of their recent experience in giving, acting and praying for CAFOD. Following the conference last year, in addition to a wide range of very impressive activity, Brownedge had visited another school to see what they could learn together. Holy Family had been awarded the CAFOD Salford Action for Global Justice Award recently by Diocesan manager Ged Edwards and their fundraising efforts now have topped £35,000 since they began! St Augustine’s spoke about a wide range of activities to which included linking toilets in Britain with new, safe toilets abroad! Julie Foley announced also that the school had recently raised £25,000 from the performance of a musical called Just One World composed by its former music staff members Peter Rose and Anne Conlon held in Blackburn at the end of June as part of the school’s 50th year celebrations.
We then turned to input from Antony Mbandi: Director of CAFOD’s Partner, Caritas Kitui in Kenya. Antony spoke about the impact which climate change is having on the communities in Kitui. The climate is becoming much more unpredictable and therefore people and livestock are at greater risk of famine and an unsustainable lifestyle. After lunch this formed the background for an excellent simulation experience led by Joe Howson for the students on the impact that climate change is having across the world. We saw not only the results of local devastation from natural disasters in faraway lands, but also saw how such disasters impacted on businesses and families here at home. This was the first occasion on which the exercise had been used and the young people through themselves into the challenge with gusto! The World Bank had better watch out for our young people in Salford diocese! The day concluded with a closing reflection and we were away by 3pm, inspired and grateful for the opportunity to hear one another and be encouraged. A truly fantastic day!