Online carol service and Nativity play

Deck the halls with bows of holly… (and you know the rest!). It’s Advent, and we’ll be celebrating Christmas the way we usually do, but online. Want to celebrate Christmas in your parish or community by holding an online carol service or Christmas Play?

Here’s a quick guide on how to do it:

  1. Choose a date and time, maybe a weekend or evening
  2. Choose an online platform like Zoom.
  3. Create an order of service (see our carol sheet for ideas on which Christmas Hymns to sing).
  4. Find someone who can lead the carols (maybe a good singer or musician, if this is not possible, try using some videos, there are loads on YouTube).
  5. Set up a JustGiving page or invite people to donate to the CAFOD website.
  6. You’re ready to go!

Everything you need to know about organising an online carol service, a selection of favourite carols to use in your service and a script for your Nativity play. Get started with these free downloadable resources here.

We have many more resources and opportunities online at cafod.org.uk/parishes. Have a look and see what might work for you and your community.

5 Minutes With…Eleanor Heans-Glogowska

We caught up with Eleanor Heans-Glogowska, Trust and Foundations Officer at CAFOD, to find out what her role as Trusts and Foundations Officer entails, the selections of exciting events happening throughout Advent at CAFOD, and how you and your family can get involved.

  1. What’s your name?

Eleanor Heans-Glogowska

2. What is your role?

Trusts and Foundations Officer.

3. How long have you been in this position?

I’m quite new! I’ve been in the role since May 2020.

4. What does a Trusts and Foundations Officer do?

I put together applications to fund CAFOD’s work and report back on what we’ve achieved with our partners.

5. What projects have you been working on lately?

I’ve been doing a lot of online events recently. We just had an online Advent day of reflection for religious that was attended by more than 120 people!

6. Tell us about Advent and the online Advent Service.

As we can’t come together in person to celebrate the start of Advent we have organised an online Advent service taking place on 3rd December at 7pm.

We’ll be joined by CAFOD Celebrity Ambassador Julie Etchingham (ITV News at 10) and CAFOD celebrity supporter Adrian Chiles (BBC Radio 5 Live) will be with us. Beautiful music will be provided by tHe Schola[EH1] , baritone Christopher Faulkner, the novices of the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Zambia, and electronic pop group Ooberfuse.

7. What have been your highlights as a Trusts and Foundations Officer?

It’s so exciting when a funding application you have been working on is successful and you know that you’ve been part of changing people’s lives.

8. How can we get involved with Advent, and how can we host our own carol service?

There are so many ways to celebrate Advent with CAFOD. Apart from the Advent service we have an online Advent calendar and you can find out how to organise your own Advent carol service here.


A year of hope and high expectations in an ever-changing world

Hannah Bartlett, based at the Youth Ministry Team (YMT) in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, shares how she came to be part of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap team 2020-2021, her hopes for the academic year ahead, and the opportunities she believes will arise in the coming year to positively adapt and develop the delivery of ministry.

When I left Sixth Form in July 2019, I believed the plans and goals I had put in place for myself were set in stone. I had plans to do a gap year with YMT for ten months, have a fantastic summer with friends and go to University in September 2020. I arrived at YMT full of enthusiasm for the year ahead and, until March, had the privilege of serving the young people of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. Of course, no one could have predicted the Global Pandemic that gripped the world in late 2019 into 2020. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was sent home from the Emmaus Village in Consett, County Durham on Thursday 19th March, and the UK entered a national lockdown four days later.

During this extended time at home, unable to see family or friends outside my household, I like many others suddenly had a lot of time to think and reflect. It was during this time of self-reflection that I definitively decided to do a second year at YMT, and continue serving the young people of the North East. Looking back, I can see that God was speaking to me through the people in my life during lockdown, who encouraged me at varying times to research Step into the Gap further.

The period of lockdown was, for me, a time of self-reflection, but also of education. During the initial months of lockdown, I found myself angered by issues of social justice both in the UK and beyond, and felt this growing anger was placed on my heart by God, and was His way of encouraging me to do something about it and take action.

Of course, it goes without saying that this academic year is very different to previous years with the complexities caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic. In terms of what this means for CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme, it is likely there will be no international visit to witness first-hand and learn and about the work of CAFOD Partners in communities worldwide, and as things currently stand it is unlikely we will be performing face to face ministry in the coming months. However, despite all the obvious challenges this could bring, I believe it is important to try to remain optimistic and stand firm in the belief that God’s plans for us are bigger and greater than we could ever imagine.

True to this, the year ahead will no doubt be different to how I imagined a second year in a Catholic retreat centre would be. Instead, I’d argue the opportunities we will receive both in our placements and with CAFOD this year will be both challenging and exciting. Although the pandemic has made it unlikely we will be able to travel overseas to work with CAFOD Partners and the communities they work with, we are still able to learn about the work they do with monthly online calls with CAFOD representatives overseas. Our first call was with Sorphoarn who works for CAFOD in Cambodia, who told us about Cambodia’s political, social and economic background, how CAFOD partners like Cambodian Organisation for Children and Development (COCD) and Karuna Battambang Organisation (KBO) help the most vulnerable communities in Cambodia and how these organisations have been helping the people of Cambodia during the pandemic. Cambodia was the country we focused on in September, sharing stories of people living in the country and the struggles faced by the most vulnerable in Cambodia. I believe there are so many opportunities for us to grow as church during this time and beyond. We have all had to adjust to new ways of life, and new ways of being the church community, whether that be tuning in to weekly live-streamed masses, virtual coffee mornings or parish council meetings taking place online from the comfort of your own living room. Whilst I’m sure we’re all eagerly awaiting the time we can go to Mass together again and be close to our friends and family, I believe it is vital we recognise that this time has been a time of great hardship and struggle, but has been blessed by the opportunity to grow and learn. It is imperative we continue to be open to learning, and to use our voices to collectively speak up for those who are unable to speak up for themselves. I’d like to thank you, therefore, for continuing to support the work of CAFOD and ask for your prayers to ensure CAFOD can continue to reach our most vulnerable brothers and sisters around the world.