As a Diocese, we celebrated the award with an Online Celebration & Social on Friday 5th March, 11am, during Fairtrade Fortnight 2021. About 60 people from parishes around the Diocese gathered on Zoom to watch a video recorded by Cardinal Vincent Nichols to mark the occasion, with guest speakers congratulating all those involved, as well as encouraging those Parishes not yet signed up to complete the Award.
Bishop Nicholas Hudson, lead bishop for Justice & Peace, opened the gathering in prayer and offered his own congratulations to everyone involved, thanking CAFOD Westminster, Caritas Westminster and Justice & Peace Westminster for their collaboration in promoting Fairtrade principles and arranging the celebration.
In his message, Cardinal Vincent Nichols congratulated the 108 Westminster Parishes that have committed to Fairtrade principles and announced that Westminster RC Diocese is now the first Fairtrade Diocese in the Country. The Cardinal also invited the remaining parishes in the Diocese to seek to become Fairtrade Parishes. This commitment requires a parish to offer Fairtrade coffee and tea when served at Parish meetings and to promote Fairtrade at least once a year in the parish. For information on how to apply visit the CAFOD website: https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Fairtrade
Everyone brought along a Fairtrade product to show in a screenshot photograph to be shared in the media afterwards and we all enjoyed spotting the many different types of Fairtrade items on display…
We were reminded that, with the end of lockdown in sight, now is the perfect time for parishes to check their tea, coffee, sugar and biscuit supplies and stock-up with Fairtrade goodies in preparation for permission to serve refreshments after Mass resuming on 12th April!
Invited speakers included Adam Gardner who has worked for The Fairtrade Foundation for more than a decade. He said, “Speaking to Barbara Kentish (former J & P Co-ordinator) and Maria Elena Arana (CAFOD) and others over the years, I’ve got just a sense of how much hard work and dedication, events, conversation, discussion and prayer, too, has gone on by so many across the Parishes and at the Diocese level so massive congratulations! There is an African proverb that says, ‘If you want to fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ This has been a true team effort and truly about going far.”
Fr Joe Ryan, former Chair of the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission, described his own wake-up call forty years ago as to where his tea and coffee came from and the origins of the decision to become a Fairtrade Diocese. Every purchase we make here can have a huge impact on others who are producing goods many miles away overseas. “Even a little can mean a lot.”
Anne Lamont, a parishioner at St John Vianney’s and volunteer in the Justice & Peace Office, told how Fairtrade had become an integral part of the Confirmation programme, which has helped to embed Fairtrade thinking and activity in the Parish. Young people in the Confirmation group hold an annual Big Brew Weekend with stalls, a raffle and Fairtrade teas, coffees and cakes which they make themselves.
Hilda McCafferty from Our Lady of Fatima, White City, in West London, reminded the meeting of the importance of Fairtrade and sustainability in the fashion industry, which was illustrated in her parish by a Fairtrade Fashion Show, also run by the Confirmation Group.
Among the other parishes in attendance were: St Bede’s – Croxley Green, Our Lady of Lourdes – Acton, St Joseph’s – Bunhill Row, St Marks – Hemel West, Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory – Warwick Street, Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrew – Hitchin, and St Edmund’s – Edmonton.
St Mary’s, Hampstead, was represented by Santana Luis who writes, “Thank you for organising the Fairtrade presentation event and asking me to speak on my journey with the Fairtrade movement for the last fifteen years. It has been a great achievement for our Diocese and a wonderful celebration to be part of the World’s largest Fairtrade city. We are now leading an example for other boroughs, parishes, deaneries, dioceses and other faith communities in the UK to be part of the Fairtrade movement, especially as this year’s themes are focusing on sustainability, circular economy, climate crisis and meeting the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).”
Tony Sheen from CAFOD thanked everyone for their participation, including Parishes who have demonstrated their commitment to Fairtrade as part of the Live Simply Award. He encouraged Parishes who have not yet started this journey to consider signing up. The Award requires us to look at our lifestyles as individuals and as Parish communities, seeking to live more simply, sustainably and in solidarity with those living in poverty. Find out more: https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Livesimply-award
Finally, the meeting was closed in prayer by the current Chair of Westminster Justice & Peace, Fr Dominic Robinson SJ.