SMA Walthamstow Parish wins major CAFOD Environmental Award

The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) has awarded  its prestigious ‘livesimply’ award to SMA parish, Our Lady of the Rosary and St Patrick’s, Walthamstow, London. The Agency covers England and Wales and established the award in response to Pope Francis’ invitation to “Work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us.”

The ‘livesimply’ award is presented to parish communities who can show how they have been living: (i) simply (ii) in solidarity with people in poverty and (iii) sustainably with creation.

Writing for the Independent Catholic News, Ellen Teague, of the Columban JPIC team, a CAFOD assessor for the award, outlined several of the initiatives undertaken by the Walthamstow parish of Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Patrick in order to win the ‘livesimply’ award.

Inaugural meeting of Walthamstow Faith in Action Group (Photo: Fr Kevin Conway SMA)

Ms Teague noted that the parish had registered for the award a year ago, and the assessment required the parish to demonstrate that it had “undertaken three substantial actions, covering each of the heading of ‘Living Simply’, ‘Living Sustainably’, and ‘Living in Solidarity with People in Poverty’ and then at least six other actions to achieve the award. In addition, they had to show that the programme is sustainable, with a ‘green team’, the setting of targets and good outreach to the whole congregation.”

Soup Lunch at Walthamstow Parish Centre, 1st Sunday of Advent. (Photo: Fr Kevin Conway SMA)

She then lists the various actions undertaken by the parish:

  • Opening of the parish hall to the homeless and a parish rota of volunteers which, she notes, “is always speedily filled up”;
  • An annual Walk to Sunday Mass; a transport survey; and encouraging parishioners to walk or cycle to church services, if possible. To facilitate this, the parish has installed new bike racks;
  • A vegetable patch;
  • The banning of disposable crockery and cutlery in the parish hall and the use of eco-detergents;
  • Soup lunches in the parish hall, marking Homeless Sunday; and the use of fair trade products ;
  • Outreach projects in Calais, Bethlehem and China.

SMA Laity Coordinator, Dympna Mallon, presents the SMA Thumbprint Campaign for Climate Justice

Ms Teague also highlights the Walthamstow Parish commitment to climate justice. This commitment to Climate Justice was encouraged when the SMA Thumbprint Campaign for Climate Justice was presented to the parish in November 2015. The Campaign was delivered in both English and Polish and garnered the wide support of the parishioners over the course of a weekend.

The SMA Walthamstow parish is only the second parish in the Brentwood Diocese, and the 24th parish in England and Wales, to receive the award. The award will be officially presented to the parish on 12 March 2017, by local MP Stella Creasy.

Speaking on behalf of the Irish Province of the Society of African Missions, Fr Michael McCabe SMA, Provincial Leader, expressed his delight and congratulated the Walthamstow parishioners, the members of the ‘Faith in Action’ group, the SMA Laity Coordinator, Dympna Mallon, and SMA priests in the parish who supported the pursuit of the award, Fr John Brown and Fr. Kevin Conway, for their determined and dedicated work, and the securing of the award.

The full Independent Catholic News article may be accessed by clicking here:

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