Let your impact on the Earth be small; let your support for others be great.

The ‘LiveSimply’ scheme was started by CAFOD some years ago to encourage Catholic groups, such as parishes and schools, to commit to taking care of and protecting God’s creation and to helping the poor among mankind.

Those are not just people in need economically and materially, but also those who suffer from loneliness, isolation, ill-health, personal setbacks or oppression or injustice.

They may be nearby, they may be far away. Their religion is irrelevant, their origins are irrelevant.

Catholic parishes and other groups are being asked to look outside themselves and be pro-active in doing so.

Pope Francis’ encyclical, ‘Laudato Si’, reinforces and promotes this approach.

‘LiveSimply’ can be thought of as countervailing consumerism, extravagance and waste and the selfishness of western society’s ‘me-first’ outlook.

About two years ago a decision was taken to apply to CAFOD to seek the award for St Mary of the Angel’s parish (weekly mass attendance 260 approx).

It was a case of focusing attention, building on what was being done already, endeavouring to meet the criteria set by CAFOD and to submit to its external assessment.

This year we applied to CAFOD to have our activities - of various sorts - evaluated.

Two assessors visited earlier this month (Dec), spoke to parishioners, questioned them relative to our written submission, inspected what we do and decided to make the award.

Nationally we became the 50th ‘LiveSimply’ parish.

In the ‘LiveSimply’ spirit, parishioners activities over the last two years have included the following things:

• Holding an annual parish meal to fundraise for our partner parish in El Salvador and foster friendship here
• Giving to the local interdenominational foodbank
• Parishioners contributing personally to the work of LIFE. The parish is a strong fundraiser for the Walsall LIFE house for young women and their babies
• Operating an SVP group, that works locally and regionally
• Running a club for retired people in the immediate area, meeting once a month
• Running a monthly Fair Trade stall after Sunday mass
• Helping the Glebe Centre in Walsall Town for the homeless and drop-outs
• Backing appeals, projects and campaigns by Aid Agencies and other organisations to raise money, mostly to send abroad. So, in the 12 months to 11th November 2018, £7,500 was raised through 12 events
• An annual collection of toys and gifts at Christmas for children in a poor parish in Birmingham
• Establishing a garden to use for commemoration, reflection and prayer, when the weather allows
• Making environmental improvements around the church and its grounds.

What does getting the award mean for the parish? Objective confirmation, reinforcement and a spur to continue, to reappraise and, hopefully, to do better in the years ahead.

Picture captions:

1 Fair Trade stall with Fr Craig Davies, parish priest, and parishioners
2 Award plaque held by Treasurer of CAFOD Group
3 Composting bins built by parishioners