A second parish in the Diocese has obtained the CAFOD Live Simply award. On top of this one of our schools has also achieved the award. Here are the details:
Our Lady of Kirkstall parish, Leeds
The Leeds parish of Our Lady of Kirkstall, encompassing the church communities at St Mary’s Horsforth, Holy Name in Cookrdge and the Assumption church in West Park have been working towards this award for over two years.
The idea came from the CAFOD group in the parish but was readily taken up by the parish council and the core principles of Live Simply(illustrated in the photo taken at Holy Name church) were even built into the guidelines that the parish council uses.
Earlier this month two Live Simply assessors visited the parish to examine what the parish had done.
Maggie McSherry, leading the assessment, said “This large parish has achieved so much in less than 2 years. I could highlight the inspirational monthly LiveSimply newsletter, the gardening club, the Lampedusa Cross pilgrimage, the Lenten prayer stations in the park, the new compost bins and recycling. The list goes on, but the overall effect on the parish has been so much more than the individual parts. It has
touched so many people’s hearts, and that is what is most important. Fr Pat has enabled the parish to work together and reflect on the concerns of today”
Paul Kelly, co-assessor, added “For me what was so effective was the way this very large parish, that had been created from three separate and quite distinctive churches, has from the outset seen LiveSimply as a strategic development which has united the parish and forged a new experience of community. Living simply has simply become a part of what they do, and this means it will continue into the future as part of their Christian mission to live out the Gospel.”
Pauls’ comments were echosed by parish priest, Fr Pat Smythe, “The Parish Council agreed that the programme had real value in its own right but also felt it would be a significant agent in furthering the desirable integration of the three churches (former parishes) which now comprised the new pastoral entity of the Parish of Our Lady of Kirkstall. This has proved to be the case in practice. The LS programme has brought parishioners closer together through their participation in a range of activities – which were more than simply social and had positive benefits within the family of the church and for the wider community.”
One of the first activities they undertook as part of their journey towards this award was to do a survey within the parish to find out what people were already doing and what they already knew about climate change. Over 400 parishioners responded and earlier this year the Live Simply Group repeated the exercise to find out if anything had changed (and, again, over 400 parishioners responded). Michael Emly, one of the members of the parish Live Simply Group, commented that “Over 40% of people responding agreed that the Live Simply programme had had an impact on their lifestyle with over 70% saying that they regularly read the Live Simply bulltin monthly insert. This, for me, was a fantastic endorsement of the work that so many people in the parish have been doing over the last two, and more, years. We are delighted to have received this award and are looking forward to celebrating this in different ways in June & July”.
St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Wetherby
The school community started on their journey towards the award in 2018. In the school newsletter issued at the end of April, the headteacher, Louise Milivojevic, commented “Over the last year we have been working towards living more simply at St Joseph’s. Our Planet Protectors have worked hard to encourage us all to be less wasteful: reduce, reuse and recycle. They lead by example in school and have shared some excellent initiatives. In addition, our Mini Vinnies have led many fund raisers including the collection on old and unused coats, hats and scarves for refugee children and food, Christmas Hampers and Back Packs for families both locally and further afield who have very little.”One of the assessors for this school was Trish Sandbach, who is also a member of the Commission. She commented, “One of the things that they have done which I particularly liked, was to develop a group of ‘Planet Protectors.’ Planet Protectors are elected by each class, 2 from each. They are responsible for turning off lights when leaving rooms, turning off the computers at the end of the day, making sure that used paper is put in the right recycling bins, taps are not dripping and so on. We should have ‘Planet Protectors’ in all our parishes and schools!”
Whilst Planet Protectors have clear specific responsibilities it is understood that everyone in the school is also responsible for the environment, local and wider. The Planet Protectors are seen as the “experts” if there is a problem. The Y6 class teacher supports them. The headteacher comments that “We still have lots of very exciting things planned as we continue to Live More Simply.”
Many congratulations to both these communities on their awards and the Commission hopes that it will be an encouragement to those other communities in the diocese who have already embarked on this journey (St John Mary Vianney parish in Leeds and the church community at Good Shepherd in Mytholmroyd) and also an encouragement for others to take up the challenge.