Putting faith into action: LiveSimply award for SMA Parish
Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Patrick’s Church, Walthamstow, a parish in the care of the Irish Province of the Society of African Missions (SMA) has become the second parish in Brentwood Diocese and the 24th in England and Wales to attain the LiveSimply parish award. The LiveSimply awards were established to help parishes, schools and communities to live more simply, sustainably and live in solidarity with the poor.
Subsequent to a climate justice awareness raising initiative delivered by SMA Laity Coordinator, Dympna Mallon, in November 2015, an invitation was extended to parishioners to take responsibility as a community to care for creation and the poor of the earth. From that invitation a Faith in Action group was formed in March 2016. Encouraged by their Parish Priests, Frs John Browne SMA and Kevin Conway SMA this highly motivated Faith in Action team piloted and coordinated the parish LiveSimply programme over the past 12 months.
To meet the criteria of the award the parish community engaged in a number of different activities
such as reducing pollution by walking and cycling to church, making parish property more energy efficient, eliminating the use of disposable cutlery, cups and plates, installing a water butt and creating a vegetable patch. In addition, a number of initiatives with a focus on wider outreach were undertaken including a soup lunch in the hall linked to the local action Christian Kitchen, marking Homeless Sunday, and outreach projects for asylum seekers, refugees and underprivileged in Calais, Bethlehem and China.
The parish newsletter was instrumental in giving regular feedback on the Faith in Action group initiatives, explaining the importance of Creation Care and linking the action to parish liturgies as well as highlighting ways people could take action in their own homes.
The presentation of the LiveSimply plaque was made to Colm Gallagher, Chairperson of the Faith in Action group, Fr. Kevin Conway SMA and Dympna Mallon by Ellen Teague, on behalf of CAFOD/LiveSimply. Ms. Teague applauded the initiatives undertaken by the parish, recognising the concerted efforts made to engage parishioners in behavioural change through innovation and simple initiatives.
Fr. Kevin Conway SMA, in congratulating the parishioners encouraged the parish to continue to strengthen what has already been done and initiate new measures saying, “It is my hope that this great achievement will be a stepping stone to ongoing efforts by this parish to promote more harmonious relationships with the earth on which we depend and those with whom we share it”. In the future the parish hopes to get more involved in advocacy work on climate change inspired by Pope’s Francis’ invitation in Laudato Si’ to “work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us”.
Bishop Alan Williams SM, Bishop of Brentwood, sent his congratulations to the parish and reiterated his hope “that both priests and people of the parish continue to be inspiring examples of the commitment to Living Simply, Living Sustainably and Living in Solidarity with People in Poverty”. Fr. Michael McCabe, SMA Irish Province Leader urged the Walthamstow Parish Community to continue to be witnesses to the “integral Christian spirituality” articulated by Pope Francis in Laudato Si’.
Following the Award presentation at the 11.30 Sunday Mass [12 March], there was a celebratory Fair Trade tea in the parish grounds.
Fr. Kevin Conway SMA, Parish of Our Lady of the Rosary & St. Patrick, 61 Blackhorse Road, E17 7AS, email: email@example.com.
(Contributors: Dympna Mallon, SMA Laity Coordinator, Fr Kevin Conway SMA and Fr Angelo Lafferty SMA)