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UK - Volunteer - Thomas

Thomas is an office volunteer for CAFOD.

Thomas wasn’t always interested in volunteering, but now he’s got involved he wouldn’t be without it!

How did you first get involved with volunteering?

Well, it’s a funny story. One Sunday, our parish priest in Kenya, who could fit in any comedy show in the UK, made a simple request. He congratulated us for coming to Mass, more well-dressed than on any other day of the week, and asked us to clap for ourselves. He also said that he was aware the congregation could not wait to get home for Sunday lunch! He requested that all people below the age of 55 and with no health condition assemble outside the church after the final blessing and accompany him to the local hospital to greet patients on the general ward.

During Mass the following Sunday, he thanked and blessed the 10 or so people that remained after the congregation of about 250 left for fine lunches and relaxation saying that Jesus was more than happy with their volunteering! If you have never seen a congregation collectively embarrassed, I did. I must say I was not among the 10 – it really made me think!

Fast forward to 2014 in the UK – I was donating money to some charities including CAFOD and the urge to volunteer was there, but at the time I was working very long hours.

Anyway, over Lent and Easter, some Roman Catholic churches - eg St Boniface Tooting, Our Lady of the Annunciation Addiscombe - put up posters of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. I thought, how do we perform charitable actions by which we help our neighbours in their bodily and spiritual needs? On prayerful reflection and after discussing with friends and family on how to achieve this, we all seem to agree that we can do this by volunteering our time to pray for, and talk to, our community. And that’s how I became a CAFOD volunteer!

What does volunteering at CAFOD give you?

I have met wonderful people in all stations in life, from parliament, politics, Archbishops, Bishops, priests, and many professionals at the top of their careers. Some have become lifelong friends and mates. I benefit greatly from their counsel and prayers.

What would you say to someone thinking of volunteering?

Everything you have has been given to you freely by God. Everything you have is a gift from Him. Use these gifts to volunteer! I promise that you will get more than you give from God.