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Thursday, February 23, 2017
Live Simply celebration at Westminster Cathedral
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¬†Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, joined by the Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton, Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood, Southwark Area Bishop John Hine, theologian Julie Clague and some 800 CAFOD supporters, celebrated the first anniversary of the live simply Westminster Cathedral on Saturday. In an age where materialism and consumerism have become new gods, the idea of living simply, sustainably and in solidarity with people who are poor appears to have caught the imagination of thousands of people. The Cardinal called it "an excellent initiative" adding that "people don't realise sufficiently that living simply isn't just about eating less, or drinking less, but it is about an attitude of mind, an attitude of heart, that we want to associate with those who have nothing". Over the past year live simply has taken on a momentum of its own. Eileen Hayes, Diocesan Officer for CAFOD Westminster said: "during the year we've deepened our understanding of what live simply means and it has grown in complexity as the numbers of people and different organisations joining the initiative has grown". Now over 55 organisations belong to a Catholic network determined to transform the world. CAFOD supporters have turned livesimply into action by campaigning for fairer trade in the gold industry, using public transport and recycling and generously giving money to help CAFOD's work overseas. The service at the Cathedral not only coincided with the start of Advent but also World AIDS Day. Maria Zuurmond, a member of CAFOD's HIV/AIDS team, spoke movingly of the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS and of her recent visits to CAFOD's partners in Africa. She was particularly touched by the plight of children in Zambia, many of whom are affected by AIDS. The positive aspect of CAFOD's work she said is that it has "enabled CAFOD partners to move away from helping people with HIV/AIDS to die with dignity, to helping them live with dignity". In his address the Cardinal also touched on the plight of children in Africa and their lack of health facilities. The Cardinal, referring to 'Live simply', said that we must each follow this course "not just because we are Christians, but because each one of us wants to give our moral voice". 80 year old Bernard Taylor from All Saints Parish in Kenton, Harrow is one of person who is following this course. He works tirelessly for the people in the developing world. On one occasion he raised £1,274 for CAFOD. He literally 'got on his bike' and cycled for ten miles. He said the service in Westminster Cathedral had "given him spiritual inspiration to continue his work for CAFOD". During the service an Angolan Prayer Group led in a special celebratory candle, singing and swaying as they came up the central aisle. Members of the 'Mama Muxima Bless Your People' group got together four years ago. One of their members, Calciva explained they wanted to "do something for Christ, to be in Christ's life". Theirs is one of the world's poorest countries and still striving to recover from the ravages of 27 years of civil war. Yet like the DRC it is rich in natural resources. The concepts of 'sharing and caring' were symbolised during the service by the Cardinal and the bishops taking their light from the special candle and coming down from the sanctuary to light the candles of CAFOD supporters. The Bishop of Brentwood, Thomas McMahon, who said that he was "full of admiration for the work of CAFOD" talked about the importance of "sharing and valuing other people". While Deborah Purfield, a CAFOD volunteer and one of the readers at the service, said "it's wonderful to see people sharing belief in a cause" adding that "it is good for the person, the community, the environment and for our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate. It's a win, win situation". The importance of sharing and what it truly means was explained by Cardinal Cormac Murphy- O'Connor when he related a story about a visit he made to Peru when still a parish priest. While sitting at an airport with another priest, two ten year old boys, who were extremely thin, approached them and asked if they could polish their shoes. Having no need of this service they declined. Instead, the priest he was with asked the boys if they were hungry and gave them a toasted sandwich. The boys devoured it in seconds, the priest then invited the boys to join them and share the rest of their food, something the Cardinal said "he will never forget "adding "the priest did the right thing. It's not enough to just give money, we must share our table with the poor".
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