St Benedict’s in Garforth recently celebrated gaining the Live Simply award and much of the following is courtesy of Katie Binns of the Leeds CAFOD office.

Parishioners and parish priest showing award plaque
Fr Gerard with parishioners Trish and David displaying the award plaque

The prestigious award, achieved by only 20 other parishes in England and Wales, was awarded to the parish in June with the official award ceremony at St Benedict’s on October 9th.

The “Live Simply” Award, set up by Catholic Aid charity CAFOD, encourages parishes across England and Wales to be greener and act more sustainably. It is awarded to communities who can show how they have been living simply, in solidarity with people in poverty and sustainably with creation.

Trish Sandbach, pictured (and also a key member of the group in the parish involved in coordinating the parish’s efforts) commented

“The live simply award has given us the opportunity to try and live out our Motto: ‘St Benedict’s-a place to grow’. Over the two years we have been working towards it we have grown as a parish community, working together, and the allotment has grown too!

It is hard to summarise it but essentially it is about caring for the Earth as Pope Francis has powerfully reiterated in his Encyclical Laudato Si: we are called to be protectors of God’s handiwork: to protect and appreciate, express our gratitude for the beauty of the Earth. It is not optional or secondary to our Christian experience, it is a fundamental part of the process of undergoing an “ecological conversion”, a change of heart.  Pope Francis has added the Care of the Earth as the 8th Corporal Works of Mercy. “

St. Benedict’s Church, rebuilt 20 years ago this year, features used wood and metal from the previous building throughout. Their vegetable garden too has been made in the same way, decked with water The garden at St Benedicts churchtanks, timber, plastic tubing and wooden crates that have all been donated from different individuals in the community. The parish’s recycling bin inside the church is a small reminder of this ethos.

Parishioner David Jackson frequently tends to the church’s vegetable garden. He said: “Our installations of the cross are made with pieces of the old church to emphasise not only Jesus’ renewal through the passion, but also the renewal of our Parish.

“Everything we grow here in the garden we also pass on to parishioners at the end of Mass. There are those in our community who can’t afford locally grown produce so being able to lend a helping hand is the greatest reward. We grow everything from beetroot to rhubarb and use our own flowers and poppies for displays at Mass throughout the year.”

Parish priest Fr. Gerrard said: “Our parishioners were encouraged by the Pope’s Encyclical to make eco-activities more part of our DNA; both as a parish and as individuals. That’s when we began to think about recycling and reusing our waste as much as possible. One thing we do liturgically every Sunday is drip feeding small encouragements in the bidding prayers and the homily, to inspire parishioners to go greener at home and to take part in all our eco-activities.”

Bronagh Daly, CAFOD representative in the Leeds diocese, said: “I am delighted that St. Benedict’s has become the first parish in the Leeds diocese to win the award. It is a great example of how such a small commitment can make a global difference to Climate Change. CAFOD’s “Live Simply” Award not only encourages a local response, but also brings a parish together to act as part of one faith. We look forward to other parishes in the Leeds diocese following their lead.”

Live Simply Awared logoTo find out how your parish can apply to win a “Live Simply” Award, please visit