Novena to St Francis


The North East dioceses of Hexham and Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Leeds, Hallam and Nottingham invite you to join us in a Novena to St Francis from Saturday 26th September to Sunday 4th October (Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi).

Praise God for the gifts of Creation

What is the Novena to St Francis?

The Novena to St Francis is nine brief reflections asking St Francis of Assisi to pray for us and our world, based on his beautiful Canticle of the Sun. Find out more here.

We are coming to the end of The Season of Creation, a time to renew our relationships with God our Creator and with all creation, as we come together in prayer. We give thanks for all that God has made, repent for the damage that we have caused and commit ourselves to take action to protect the earth, Our Common Home. This year in particular, we pray for our brothers and sisters overseas, as they try to navigate through the coronavirus pandemic without the resources that we have.

How to do the Novena to St Francis with us

  1. Choose a suitable time of day from 26th September to 4 October. We will be doing 9am and 7pm but you can choose a time that suits you!
  2. Each day at your chosen time, head to our blog and see the ‘Novena 2020’ tab. You can access the blog here.
  3. You will find the relevant day’s video and reflection. Each video is less than a minute long, so do not hesitate to put the video on pause to reflect on what you have just heard and add your own penitential prayer.
  4. Let us know you were with us! Send us a tweet, post in our Facebook page or send us an email letting us know what the Novena means to you. We will share our own and your reflections on our blog.

Margaret’s walking for CAFOD’s coronavirus appeal


CAFOD parish volunteer Margaret contacted me recently to tell me what she has been doing quietly. At first she said, ” I don’t want any publicity and I certainly don’t want a visit from the BBC!”, (although she wouldn’t mind meeting Charlie from breakfast tv)!

Later she agreed I could share it!

She told me, “Of course like everyone else I really miss meeting people at Church….. I meet many people each day on my daily walks pushing my rollator around Linthorpe! I was ahead of Captain Tom celebrating his 100th birthday and I know that he was able to raise millions for the NHS. I’ve decided to raise funds for the CAFOD appeal and each day I’m going to put some money in a CAFOD box and at the end of all this that money is for the appeal.”

What a marvellous idea! Keep up the great effort Margaret!

Is there anything you are doing to support our Coronavirus appeal that you’d like to share with us – we’d love to hear from you! Join our coronavirus appeal today

CAFOD Volunteer Meetings in February


Our Volunteer meetings will take place during this month.

Tuesday 11th February in the Father Kelly room at Our Lady’s, Cornlands Road,  Acomb, York from 11:30 – 1:30pm.

Tuesday 18th February at St Anthony’s Church, Beverley Road, Hull from 12:30 – 2:30pm.

Thursday 27th February at the Curial Offices, 50a The Avenue, Linthorpe Middlesbrough from 12:00 – 2:00pm.

Please tell us if you are coming and feel free to bring a friend along with you!

Teenage campaigner inspires community to come together


Jodie explains some of the issues that need addressing

A 14-year-old from Driffield has organised a series of environmental events and workshops to help her community learn more about the effects of climate change,

With support from her local CAFOD parish volunteer, Ethna Connell, young Jodie Lidster has been rallying the parishioners at her local church to get involved with a campaign to tackle climate change by making small changes in their everyday lives.

“Climate change is a big problem to society because we are killing all living things on the earth like trees, flowers and sea creatures,” said Jodie, who volunteers with the Catholic international development charity CAFOD.

“There are droughts and flooding and people are suffering. And we don’t know that it’s happened because we have done so much damage.

“Litter is a huge problem. It travels all over to the other side of the world just to be dumped in the poorest countries, it’s not fair. What’s even more unfair is that they have to fish it up and walk through it just to look for food and drink.”

“I want to help. I want my parish to help me to help.”

Jodie started by making a massive poster for the church hall and got the children’s group at church involved by playing games around the theme of the environment.

The determined youngster then decided to organise a plant and produce sale, which included information stalls to help local people to learn more about the effects of climate change.

Jodie said: “When we asked the people from the parish for help, they came with local plants, vegetables, and eggs from my grandma’s chickens. People made jams from homegrown fruit and one of our young readers at church and her mum made biscuits and they sold so quickly.

“We got support from the children’s church group, who showed and explained how we can all help in our own world. Our youngest church reader, who is seven years old, taught us to recycle plastic to make bird feeders.”

In addition to campaigning about climate change, Jodie also used her skills to fundraise to help install a disabled ramp at her church.

“Because many of our friends are old and frail and others have disabilities and some use wheelchairs, we had a problem as there are steps into our church,” said Jodie. “So, we all decided to help raise money to have a ramp for easier access into the church and to help people feel independent and welcome.

“With the sale, we raised a little money and decided to share this between the disabled ramp and CAFOD, who are campaigning to tackle climate change as part of their ‘Our Common Home’ campaign.”

This event was one of many inspired by CAFOD’s ‘Our Common Home’ campaign and organised by CAFOD volunteers around the country. It is hoped the events will highlight the growing concern for the environment and start new conversations about climate change. 

Find out more about CAFOD’s campaigns at

St Mary’s Cathedral leads the way


With grateful thanks to Don for this report on the first Creation campaign event.

Don prepares to collect signatures for our petition from parishioners

As the result of the positive response by Mgr. Gerard Robinson, Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral, to CAFOD’s Creation Celebration campaign, the Mass at the Cathedral on the morning of 19 May 2019, the fifth Sunday of Easter, incorporated hymns and prayers that celebrated God’s creation.

The Mass was celebrated by Fr Richard Marsden, who, in his introduction, explained the Mass as having a special focus on the Care of Creation and he reminded the congregation to keep that intention in their prayers.

In his homily, the Rev Ken Senior, the Cathedral deacon, spoke of the ‘vastness of God’s love’ and pointed out ‘One of the ways that God has shown his love for us all is by giving us a fantastic world in which to live. Sadly, partly through lack of knowledge, and partly through things out of our control, we have done many things to harm our world.

This is something Pope Francis has become acutely aware of and deeply concerned about. So much so that he wrote an encyclical on the subject, Laudato Si’, his message being that we need to care for our planet and to do everything possible to reverse the damage we have done. So, as we think about how we love those around us, we also need to think about our love for future generations and for the legacy that we will leave them.’

The Children’s Liturgy Group studied St Francis’s Canticle of Creation and considered why God’s creation is so special and what we can do to look after it. The children read out the following prayer to the whole congregation: “Dear Lord, help us to see your beauty and likeness in all created things, so that we may follow St Francis in showing care for creation. Amen.”

Before the final blessing, Don Lillistone, the parish CAFOD representative, spoke of the Creation Celebration campaign and encouraged parishioners to sign CAFOD’s petition asking the Government to commit to a net zero greenhouse emissions reduction target by 2045.

After Mass, Carol Cross, CAFOD Community Participation Coordinator for the Diocese of Middlesbrough, helped Teresa Lyth, the Chair of the Cathedral Justice and Peace group and other members of the group to deal with the enthusiastic response to the petition and to answer any queries. 112 parishioners signed the petition.   

Parishioner’s showing their concern for Our Common Home, eagerly signing the petition.

Weathering the changes on the Humber Bridge Cross


Smiles of anticipation as we waited to set off

The sun was shining brightly and the birds were singing as Christian Aid and CAFOD volunteers set off for the annual Humber Bridge Cross. There were many friendly faces greeting us as we passed each other walking to the Barton side. You could see for miles all around from the elevated vantage of the bridge as we made the first crossing. I think Sam the dog could sense a change was coming!

Refreshments on the Barton side, Sam the dog was eager to get going again!

The thing about walking across the Humber Bridge is you are exposed to the elements. Grey clouds were descending as we set off again, soon turning into a heavy downpour driven by a gusty wind! Bernard was walking with the aid of two sticks when we met Margaret, who’d left her coat at home but bravely continued the first cross and lapped us on the way back to the Hessle side! For us, it was a real case of heads down into the wind and endure the torrent until it abated – we were soaked through!

A little rain didn’t dampen their spirits – Margaret and Bernard smiled through!

As we got back to where we started, the rain stopped and the sun came back out! The other walkers had already left for home as we claimed our certificates from Teresa and Norah and bid farewell to the friendly teams in the registration tent as they packed up for another year. No doubt we’ll be back to do it all again next year!

Harvest talk 4: Sierra Leone with Kayode Akintola

Our final Harvest Fast Day talk for the North East region will be held on Wednesday 16th September at 6pm with Kayode Akintola. Kayode is the CAFOD Country Representative for Sierra Leone and Liberia. Including his time at CAFOD, Kayode has been involved in international development management, civil society strengthening and social development for almost 20 years. 

This talk will be co-facilitated by Maggie Mairura, Community Participation Coordinator for Nottingham diocese. 

Sierra Leone is one of the lowest-ranking countries in the world for life expectancy, access to education and standard of living. Almost three-quarters of people live below the poverty line. CAFOD was on the front line when the deadly Ebola virus struck Sierra Leone. Now, our local experts are ready to support communities during the coronavirus crisis. “The reality is people must work to eat in this country, says Kayode, “They live a day after another. So, when we talk in terms of lockdown or self-isolation, it becomes very difficult for so many people.” 

“We defeated Ebola, and we know that by the grace of God we are going to defeat coronavirus.” 

Come and hear from Kayode in our final Harvest Fast Day talk.  

Reminder: Carol Cross will send you the Zoom link for this meeting 2 days beforehand

Harvest Fast Day talk 3: South East Asia with Janet Symes

Our third Harvest Fast Day talk will be held on Monday 14th September at 2pm with Janet Symes, Head of Region for Asia & Middle East. Janet has been working with CAFOD since 2014 and prior to that she spent many years working in development around the world, particularly in the Asia and the Middle East but also in the UK. She lived in the Middle East for several years as well as in the Balkans and East Africa. 

This talk will be co-facilitated by Tim Madeley, Community Participation Coordinator for Hexham and Newcastle diocese. 

Janet has a passion for people-led development: enabling the people themselves to define the future or their communities. CAFOD works in countries across Asia to combat poverty, respond to emergencies and uphold the rights of the continent’s poorest and most vulnerable people to lift themselves out of poverty. The region is frequently hit by large natural disasters and is exposed to the impacts of climate change, affecting the poorest and most marginalised. 

Come and hear from Janet at talk number 3. 

Reminder: Carol Cross will send you the Zoom link for this meeting 2 days beforehand