Caritas Westminster seeks to bring about a society where everyone lives a life of dignity and worth.

They aim to help individuals in the Diocese of Westminster to use their gifts and talents to create inclusive and caring communities.

This is the March issue of their monthly newsletter:

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“The fact that the Lord once again offers us a favourable time for our conversion should never be taken for granted. This new opportunity ought to awaken in us a sense of gratitude and stir us from our sloth.” Pope Francis, message for Lent

Pope Francis emphasises that Lent is a gift we are given, a time dedicated to growing our Faith. Here at Caritas Westminster we have spent some time considering what this means. As St James clearly says “Faith without deeds is dead”. A living faith grows in action as it grows in spirit.

Across Westminster diocese, we have examples of this living faith in the volunteers who help run social action projects, working with Caritas Westminster and many other charities.

As Spring begins and we hope for warmer weather, the work of dozens of winter night shelters comes to a close. Did you see the report about these amazing projects in the latest Westminster Record newspaper? You can read it on the diocese website here.

Since October 135 volunteers have helped Caritas Food Collective to run holiday clubs, supporting families who struggle to put food on the table every day. The report from the events run in the February half term show that the kids all had fun, and the parents appreciate the information sessions, not to mention the bags of food providing a few days relief from worry.

When the pope wrote his Lenten message, (which can be read in full on the Vatican website) he may have been thinking of the work of Caritas across the world:

“Putting the paschal mystery at the centre of our lives means feeling compassion towards the wounds of the crucified Christ present in the many innocent victims of wars, in attacks on life, from that of the unborn to that of the elderly, and various forms of violence. They are likewise present in environmental disasters, the unequal distribution of the earth’s goods, human trafficking in all its forms, and the unbridled thirst for profit, which is a form of idolatry.”

As Christians, we desire to move from “feeling compassion” to acting. Caritas Westminster’s Volunteer Service – now with its own mini website – makes it easy to find something to do if you have a little time to spare – or indeed a lot of time! During Lent we are running drop-in sessions in various locations in the diocese, where we will be on hand to help you search for volunteering opportunities online and answer any questions you may have about volunteering.

If you have been following us on social media this Lent, you will have seen our messages linking Catholic Social Teaching with the volunteering opportunities available.

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Earlier this week, we hosted an information evening, with the group Sponsor Refugees on the idea of “Community Sponsorship of Refugees”. A number of communities across London have prepared a space for a refugee family, usually from Syria, finding accommodation and giving them a welcome and ongoing support when they arrive. We are hoping that more parishes across the diocese will accept this challenge to help get more families into safety. Talk to us, your parish priest or your parish Caritas Rep if you would like to get involved.

Does your parish have a Caritas Rep? If not, could this be you? If you have a passion for engaging others in social action, underpinned by Catholic Social Teaching, then you could be a representative, sharing information about Caritas with fellow parishioners and keeping us up to date about activities in your community.

And finally, the pope’s Lenten message includes the words: “Charitable giving makes us more human”. This could mean giving time as a volunteer, or giving money – as projects cannot run on people-power alone!
Today is CAFOD’s Family Fast Day when we are all asked to go without something and give the money saved to their excellent relief and development projects overseas.

The Cardinal’s Lent appeal is ongoing between now and Easter, supporting projects in our own diocese, where the need is also great. Projects run by Caritas Westminster are among the beneficiaries, so we ask you to be as generous as you can. Without funds from the Cardinal’s appeal the Food Collective’s holiday clubs. A year-round homeless shelter in Southall has been enabled to employ night workers, thanks to your generosity over the past five years.

Thank you so much – for money, time, prayers, and all other forms of support that you give to the work of Caritas Westminster.

With God’s blessings for peace and health in body, mind and spirit this Lent..