St Joseph's Birtley


CAFOD Live Simply

CAFOD Live Simply Plaque

CAFOD Live Simply Award

St Joseph's Parish Birtley gains CAFOD Live Simply Award

Following a meeting between two CAFOD Live Simply assessors, the Parish LIve Simply Group and Deacon Peter, we are pleased to report that the Parish of St Josephs has gained the CAFOD Live Simply Award.

Live Simply is a response to Pope Francis's invitation to "work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us"

Live Simply is awarded to communities who can clearly demonstrate how they have been living;
1. Simply
2 .In solidarity with the poor, and
3. Sustainably with creation.

Communities produce a Live Simply action plan and carry out a range of actions based on the three key themes.

While welcoming the award, the parish Live Simply Group commented that gaining the award is not the end of Live Simply but a significant start. The challenge now is to build on what has been achieved and continue to engage all parish groups, families and individuals in living more simply as part of everyday life.

St Joseph's Parish is also keen to spread the Live Simply message throughout the Benedict Partnership and encourage other communities to develop plans and actions in their own communities. The LIve Simply group have offered to share their experience and learning with others through the Partnership Social Justice and Environment Group.

When circumstances permit, the St Joseph's Live Simply Group would also like to hold an event in the Parish Centre based on the experience of the process, it's impact on the parish community and how Live Simply might be developed and applied throughout the Partnership.

The Parish Assessment to enable us to achieve the award is shown below.

Parish Assessment

The Parish Live Simply Group has submitted our Live Simply Plan to CAFOD for their assessment. The assessment will take place online in October and we will keep everyone up to date with progress.

As part of the parish Live Simply Plan we are aiming to restart the Live Simply discussion groups in the Parish Centre when circumstances permit.

We have a lot of ideas for topics and for discussion in various formats. These could include; showing films and documentaries on climate change and it's impact, discussion aspects of Laudato Si. presentations on climate change and effects on the poor and disadvantaged,Looking at overseas aid programmes and economic development including sustainable agriculture and food production.

If you would like to take part in any of these Live Simply discussion groups, look out for future announcements in the Partnership newsletter or our parish website.

If you have any ideas for discussion topics please contact our CAFOD Live Simply group at:

Our Parish of St Josephs has recently been registered for the CAFOD Live Simply Award.

The Live Simply Award is an opportunity for our parish community, our Catholic schools and parish groups, to respond to Pope Francis’s invitation in Laudato Si (See below) in practical way by, in the words attributed to among others, Gandi and Mother Teresa and used by a wide range of religious leaders “that we live simply so that others may simply live.”

Fr Jim O'Keefe
Fr Jim O'Keefe

At the Annual General Meeting of the Church Pastoral Council in April 2019, Father Jim O’Keefe got our Parish Live Simply Award off to a good start with his inspirational talk “The Scandal of Our Time.”

CAFOD has produced a leaflet entitled “100 Live Simply Ideas” which provides some really good ideas on how we can all live more simply. The ideas are grouped under the following headings;

1.Reflection and Worship – For example; seasonal liturgies, a Live Simply Mass or a special celebration of the Feast of St Francis of Assisi

2. Practical – For example; creating outdoor spaces for prayer and contemplation, paperless communication, walk to Church Sunday

3. Reaching Out – Car Sharing to meetings and to Church services , litter pick events

4. Taking Live Simply Home - A parish ‘unplugged day by committing to no computers, phones or TV for a day (perhaps during Lent), Having a meat free day once a week (Committing to Friday fast and abstinence)

To kick off the Live Simply Award in our Parish we thought we could share good ideas of the spiritual and practical things that are already taking place. Looking through the 100 Live Simply Ideas, many things are currently being done by our various Parish Groups. We would like to use existing good practice with the Parish for our Award submission and are asking groups to tell us about the work they are doing at all levels. If your group is involved could you let us know (Kevin or Tom – Contact details at the back of church on the Parish Notice Board).

If you or you Parish Group is interested in responding in a practical way to Pope Francis’s appeal in Laudato Si and would like to adopt or lead on any Parish Event we would be very interested to include your activities in our Parish Live Simply Award too.

Live Simply - Practical Tips

1. Limit Your Purchase of Single Use Plastics - Our Parish CAFOD coordinator Kevin once asked a former parishioner the late Paul Younger, who was also the Newcastle Chronicle’s ‘Go Green Doctor’ for practical tips.

His advice was to reduce plastic waste by limiting our purchases of bottled water. He said water companies do not make water, they make plastic which is only used once then sent to landfill or exported overseas as waste where it causes unnecessary pollution. Worse still it can end up in the seas and oceans, where it is broken up and ingested by fish and ultimately human beings. So buy a refillable water bottle and take it to school/university/college or work with you. Most organisations now have fresh water fountains where you can refill your bottle free of charge.

2. Leave the car at home – why not walk to church in the good weather or if you can’t manage the distance think about using the bus. Walking reduces carbon emissions and you also benefit from the exercise and fresh air too. You can find bus timetables for Birtley through the following web link

If you have a good practical Live Simply Tip you would like to share with parishioners, write it down and leave it on a piece of paper at the back of church. There is no need to leave your name or other personal details. We will try to add your tip the website or publish some of them in our weekly Parish Bulletin.

Pope Francis’s Encyclical Laudato Si (On Care for Our Common Home)

Laudato Si

Laudato Si (English Translation ‘Praise Be to You) was published by Pope Francis on 18th June 2015. The Encyclical is a world wide appeal to all people (not just Catholics) to think about the damage irresponsible consumerism is having on our environment and the impact that in turn, this has on all people around the world, but in particular the poor and those who are in most need.

“We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si)

And CAFOD has further information, including teaching resources available by clicking here.

The Contribution of Our Schools to Live Simply

The young people in our three parish schools have and continue to be involved in a wide range of social justice and environmental projects which their teachers have related to Pope Francis’s Laudato Si Encyclical. You can read more by clicking on the pictures of the schools below about the interesting things that they have been doing and what further projects are planned.

A Live Simply Prayer

Compassionate and loving God,
you created a beautiful world for us to share:
Give us the desire to live simply,
so that our lives show your generosity.
You made us responsible for the earth:
guide us so that those who come after us
may enjoy your creation. Amen.

Source: The Jesuit Institute

A Live Simply Hymn

If you are planning a Live Simply service or spiritual event why not include the CAFOD Living Simply Hymn?