One Oxford parish's journey to LiveSimply

7 November 2019

Parishioners of Corpus Christi Church in Oxford and Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Wheatley are doing their best to make a reality of Pope Francis’s call in Laudato ‘Si to live more simply and to care for the planet.

Parishioners of Corpus Christi Church in Oxford and Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Wheatley are doing their best to make a reality of Pope Francis’s call in Laudato ‘Si to live more simply and to care for the planet. 

Parishioners of Corpus Christi Church in Oxford and Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Wheatley are doing their best to make a reality of Pope Francis’s call in Laudato ‘Si to live more simply and to care for the planet'.

Parish volunteer John Guy explains:

"Inspired by sermons from Parish Priest Canon Mervyn Tower, our understanding of the scriptural imperative to care for God’s creation has led us to work towards the CAFOD LiveSimply Award."

The Livesimply resources were a helpful starting point to begin their journey from. 

A journey in solidarity

Over the past 18 months, the parish has been developing concrete ways of putting their faith into action to engage the whole parish. 

Early on, about 100 parishioners gathered for a pilgrimage to join in CAFOD’s Share the Journey project, to express solidarity with migrants on the move across the world; walking around the perimeter of Bury Knowle Park, collectively contributing 249 miles.  

The journey began and ended with prayers led by Fr Mervyn.  A prayer station halfway round, where large photographs and stories of migrants had been posted, raised the interest of other families just out for a walk.   

For Lent, the whole parish were encouraged to get involved with the ‘Give up (some) plastic for Lent’ challenge – which saw parishioners ditch the disposables in favour of more eco-friendly alternatives.

Caring for our common home

More recently, the parish has turned its attention to recycling, alerted by scientists' concerns that valuable precious metals are being used up too rapidly in electronic devices.  

Parishioners gathered items with hidden value found in every household such as old mobile phones, cameras, and sat navs which contain precious metals like gold, silver, copper, platinum and palladium.  

Parishioner Fortunata Oates explained: “We discovered that mining these metals from ore is difficult - it takes a tonne of ore to get 1g of gold but we can recover it from existing mobile phones and other electronic equipment.”

The churches are also collecting other items usually left in drawers and cupboards like jewellery and watches, foreign currency, and used postage stamps for recycling.

Claire Harvey, a parishioner at Corpus Christi, said: “I was astonished to find that I had three old mobile phones in the drawer at home which I had collected over the last 10 years – alongside three cameras, a tablet and a broken Kindle!”

Sackfuls of precious trash have now been sent to Recycling for Good Causes, a company which gives money back to the Parish which they have chosen to donate to CAFOD. 

 A useful handbook

The latest project has been a LiveSimply book of recipes and tips. 

The parish is renowned for its regular multi-cultural lunches featuring dishes from across the world. They're cooked by parishioners from every continent on earth. 

The emphasis of the book is on celebrating the parish's multi-cultural community and making the most of leftovers.

Parishioner Maya Francis, who contributed three innovative recipes for beetroot, said: “The recipes are all so well compiled! I feel honoured to be a part of this.”

The book was launched by CAFOD Chairman Bishop John Arnold, Bishop of Salford, when he celebrated Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes, Wheatley. 

He said: “I hope all parishioners will enjoy cooking my leftover rice and veg on page 8 but they may prefer Fr Mervyn’s spaghetti con salsa di pomodoro on page 7!”

“Thank you for all you do to respond to the Cry of the Poor and the Cry of the Earth as we care for Our Common Home.”

Only the beginning

Corpus Christi parish is just one of many around the country that have started their LiveSimply journey with CAFOD. Exeter's parish became the 50th church to receive the award. 

There are now over 50 groups across England and Wales who have been presented with the award.

Get involved and start working towards your own LiveSimply award today!

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