From Nicaragua to Newcastle

Three overseas visitors came to Newcastle to share information about the vital work they carry out in some of the world’s poorest countries, that your generous donations have helped to fund. 

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Moise, Kelechi and Winston talking to CAFOD supporters

Moise Liboto Makuta, Kelechi Emeh and Winston Berrios spoke of their experiences in Niger, Nigeria and Nicaragua respectively.

The trio all work as Overseas Programme Officers for CAFOD.

Niger suffers from regular droughts and suffered a severe food crisis in 2012 which affected five million people.

In Nigeria,  work focuses on peace building and humanitarian assistance, among other areas. In Nicaragua, work includes improving housing, water, nutrition and education.

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Catholics across Newcastle raise over £15,000 to ‘turn on the taps’ across the world this Easter 

Katie Binns reports on some amazing efforts for our Lenten appeal.

Uganda Lent 2016 parish photo Proscovia

Proscovia no longer had to trek for miles to get water for her village in Uganda.

Parishioners and pupils in the Newcastle area have raised an astounding £15,692.31 for Catholic aid agency CAFOD’s Lenten appeal. Catholics across the UK were asked to help ‘turn on the taps’ throughout Lent in a bid to provide clean and safe water around for those in the poorest communities.

St. Cuthbert’s School in North Shields held a Lenten Lunch for the students and teachers to raise awareness about the appeal whilst St. Stephen’s Primary School in Longbenton raised money by turning their regular healthy food snack shack into a soup shack. The school’s representative, Kate Swaddle, said:

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Children from St. Cuthbert’s School. North Shields.

“The pupils realized that having access to clean water helped and impacted on hygiene, sanitation and the children’s education as they could collect water more quickly than before with the help of this appeal.”

CAFOD’s Community Participation Coordinator in Newcastle, David Cross, said:

“Being able to turn on a tap and have clean water is something we normally take for granted. That’s why we’re so grateful to everyone in Newcastle who have raised money for our Lent appeal, helping families to access this basic right and empowering girls to get an education and fulfil their potential. It’s brilliant to think that their efforts will have the double the impact with the UK Government matching the money raised.”

The money raised will enable the taps to be turned on in villages around the world by repairing or providing water pumps and training in order to maintain them. It will also fund hygiene programs, education in sanitation, and the building of latrines. Matched funds from the UK Government will enable access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene programs to over 300,000 people in Uganda, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Oscar Romero Reflection Evening

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About 60 people attended a reflection given by Fr. Jim O’Keefe, looking back on his recent pilgrimage to El Salvador and the the life of Archbishop Oscar Romero. The evening was held at All Saints in Denton Burn, Newcastle on 24 March, exactly 34 years since Romero’s martyrdom.

Fr. Jim spoke about Romero being from a poor background and how he played at being a priest from a young age, how he went on to be a serious young priest although slightly isolated from his fellow clerics until he was made Archbishop of El Salvador. After his friend Rutilio Grande was murdered “the scales fell from his eyes.” Only then did Romero fully appreciated the horror that stalked his flock. Drawing from the people he met, Fr. Jim held the rapt congregation for over an hour with stories of Romero’s life as well the atrocities that El Salvador suffered at the time.

The description of Romero’s final moments was as chilling in the retelling as it was shocking in 1980. Fr. Jim recounted how a gunman entered the church when the Archbishop was reciting the offertory prayer. As he replaced the host on the altar, a shot rang out and Romero fell at the foot of the crucifix behind the altar. Previously, Fr. Jim had told the congregation that Romero confessed to being afraid of two things, of being tortured and that his death might cause the death of others. God granted his wish to avoid both.

When Fr. Jim told how he was celebrating Mass at the same altar and at the same point in the Mass, the same church doors opened and two men in suits entered. Although history did not repeat itself, it was clear that he felt more than a little uneasy in the situation.

Following the talk, the congregation moved into the church hall for some Salvadorian inspired refreshments and to speak about what they had heard. Ged Naughton, who travelled from Consett to hear the talk said, “Romero always seems very human to me. The more you hear about him, the more you know his faults, but you keep hearing how he overcame them, or at least found a way to live with them. Because he was human, he was scared, but he managed to get over his fear and his inspiration stays with us.”

It was widely felt that an exceptional person had been celebrated, with everyone looking forward to when the Church will say “St. Oscar Romero, pray for us.”