There are a lot of different elements to this e-bulletin. Black Lives Matter is still very central to many of our reports; plus we are just coming to the end of Refugee Week – not a great week for the Government to announce that they are closing down the Department for International Development and passing control over to the Foreign Office. There are lots of opinions, e-petitions and events for you to follow.
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E-Bulletin Contents: –
News and Comment
- Government merges Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
- African Churches confront food insecurity.
- NJPN column in the Universe
- How and why a football player nudged Boris into a U-Turn.
- Refugee Week News
- Syrian refugees in desperate situation
- Annexation of the West Bank and other matters
- Update on #BlackLives Matter
- The forgotten Seafarers
- Human Rights Activist released.
- Threat of military action on the Korean peninsula
- Day for Life – horrifying statistics.
- Bishops speak out over Immigration Bill
- The End of Fracking?
- Pope Francis – we are all responsible for the scourge of child labour
16. Lancaster Faith and Justice Newsletter for June
17. NW NJPN E-Bulletin
18. Biofuelwatch Newsletter
19. London Catholic Worker Newsletter
20. Liverpool and Shropshire Summer Edition of ‘MouthPeace’
21. Summer edition of the Birmingham J & P Newsletter
22. Liverpool Justice and Peace Assembly
23. Global Justice Now – what a post-lockdown world might
look like and how it will affect the climate
24. Campaign Against Climate Change Webinar
25. Joint Public Issues Team Beckley Lecture 2020
26. Christian CND Prayer Meeting
27. Radical Presence’ – a seven week course with Green Christian
28. Campaign Against the Arms Trade –
petitioning Dominic Raab re global ceasefire
***NJPN Action of the Week***
29. Support the students at Kings College London
in their endeavours
30. ‘Build Back Better’ – information from Campaign against
31. Labour’s Green Recovery – feed into the consultation
32. Support calls for an increase in Asylum Seeker Support
20. Stop public funding of climate-wrecking oil and gas overseas
21. Do we really want chlorinated chicken on our shelves?
21. Stop Israel’s illegal annexation of the occupied West Bank
22. Local Government Pension Scheme Funds Complicit
23. Operation Noah fossil fuel divestment webinar
23. Life on the Breadline – Holiday hunger provision during Covid-19
The Last Word
24. Annie O’Connor – a personal tribute
NEWS AND COMMENT
1. UK faith agencies condemn merger between DfID and FCO
Chief Executives of the UK’s largest faith-based organisations have spoken out to condemn the merger between the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Their concern is that it will have an impact on the UK’s ability to support the world’s most vulnerable people. Independent Catholic News reports their statement here.
UNICEF has also put out a statement in response to the announcement of the merger. The UK is one of the most respected countries in the world for international Development and aid, and the fear is that we will diminish our international standing at a time of global crisis. To see their comment, go to…
An interim report has been produced by MPs calling for DFID to remain independent. Read the full report here.
Finally, three former Prime Ministers, David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair have attacked the Government’s plan to merge DfID with the Foreign Office. Read the article in The Guardian by clicking this link.
If you are concerned about the merger, Global Justice Now have an online petition opposing the DfID merger and the long-term corporate takeover of aid? To join in, click here.
2. ‘Hunger Pandemic’ highlighted by clerics in East Africa
South Sudan church leaders are among African clerics who are highlighting a painful “hunger pandemic” in their countries, as experts warn of aggravated food insecurity in regions due to coronavirus. It has been reported that they are suffering a ‘triple pandemic’ including Covid-19, gender-based violence and severe hunger. The World Council of Churches report the full story here…
3. Latest NJPN Column in The Universe
Investing in Change – Patricia and Michael Pulham talk about the new report ‘Banks, Weapons and Nuclear Weapons – Investing in Change’ which has been produced by various faith organisations. Read it here.
Our thanks go to our friends at The Universe for supporting us. If you would like to take out a subscription to their newspaper, please follow the link.
4. Marcus Rashford – modern day hero!
Everyone has probably heard by now about the letter that Marcus Rashford wrote to the Government concerning the cancellation of the provision of free school meal vouchers for low-income families during the summer holidays. His original letter to MP’s, explaining his story and why he believes they should make a U-turn on their decision is available to read here.
He is not the only football player to get involved in helping people during the coronavirus pandemic. Footballers often get a lot of bad press (sometimes deserved), but here are a few feelgood stories concerning some of them – click here.
5. Refugee Week (15th – 21st June) – Stories and information.
‘Journeys of Hope’ – the Joint Public Issues Team have some inspirational stories from refugees about their lives, past and present. Find them here…
‘Trees of Home‘ – a beautiful poem highlighting the heartbreak of family separation. Follow this link.
Sometimes, a phone is a lifeline – little everyday things to us can make such a difference to a refugee. Read here…
Bishop McAleenan, Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees for the Bishops Conference, comments about Refugee Week here.
Amnesty International invites us to share their post, calling on the Government to reunite ALL families after lockdown – not just some. To share via Facebook, go to…
Safe Passage, who campaign to help child refugees to access legal routes to safety, have said the following for Refugee Week:- ‘We cannot be a community fighting for migrant justice unless we are also fighting for racial justice. We have a responsibility to do whatever we can together to tackle racism in all its forms.’ So, as well as encouraging people to donate to their own cause, they are also recommending a list of anti-racism organisations that you may want to donate to. They suggest if you cannot afford to support them, maybe you can help them in other ways. For more information on those causes, click here.
Sadly, there are still migrants trying to cross various seas, in search of a better life. A couple of weeks ago, 46 bodies of African migrants were recovered from the Mediterranean, off the coast of Tunisia, when their boat capsized. Read the tragic story here.
Finally, if you missed the Webinar entitled ‘The Pope, the pandemic and the people we leave behind’ – a conversation between Sarah Teather from the Jesuit Refugee Service, and Austin Ivereigh, on the 18th June, it is available to watch either through Twitter, or through the JRS website front page here.
6. Syrian Refugees now in a desperate situation
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) say that the number of vulnerable Syrian refugees who lack the basic resources to survive in exile has dramatically surged as a result of the Covid-19 health emergency. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in the Middle East are now in a desperate situation. Vatican News reports here…
7. Israel and the Annexation of the West Bank
Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Justin Welby published a ‘Joint Statement on Annexation’ on the 12th June that has been delivered to both the Israeli Ambassador and the British Prime Minister. The World Council of Churches give details here…
Suheir Ziedan, is a Christian Palestinian from Bethlehem. Her family have lived in the Cremisan Valley for many generations. The Cremisan Monastery and vineyard was a popular spot with Christian pilgrims for many years. The Cremisan Valley has been annexed by the Israelis and will soon be inaccessible to locals and owners, as it will be behind the Separation Wall. Her report is here.
Other news in the Holy Land: – Israel renews apartheid-style marriage law, which affects thousands of Palestinians from legally moving to Israel to join their spouses. Read the article from Independent Catholic News here.
8. Black Lives Matter – almost four weeks on since the death of George Floyd
Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, asks the UN Human Rights Council to ‘help black people in America’, during an urgent debate on police brutality and systemic racism. Read more here.
‘The Trayvon Generation’ – an article in The New Yorker under the banner ‘Racial Injustice in America’ by Elizabeth Alexander. A powerful piece of writing about how it is and how it has been raising sons under the spectre of anti-black violence . Read and absorb it here.
Archbishop Wilton Gregory speaks on racism, through the National Catholic Reporter: ‘significant moment for real national transition.’ To read his article click here.
Also in the National Catholic Reporter, Shannen Dee Williams’ piece ‘The church must make reparation for its role in slavery, segregation’ is tough to read with her stating that the ‘church has never been an innocent bystander in the history of white supremacy’. The article can be accessed here.
Brazil’s black lives matter too! In 2017, the Institute of Research and Applied Statistics (IPEA) and the Brazilian Forum of Public Safety revealed that Black people comprise 75.5 per cent of fatal police shootings. A senate investigation went on to highlight that Brazilian law enforcement officers kill a Black youth every 23 minutes. Read more here.
9. Seafarers and Covid-19
Many people would not have thought about the maritime personnel and fisherman that, due to the coronavirus, have spent much longer at sea than normal, and have not been allowed to disembark to see family or loved ones. Plus they have had the added fear of infection. According to the UN’s Labour Agency, anywhere between 150,000 and 200,000 seafarers are currently stranded at sea. To see Pope Francis thanks to them, and to read more, click here.
10. Nabeel Rajab released from prison after serving a four year sentence.
On the 9th June, human rights defender Nabeel Rajab was finally released from Jaw prison on a non-custodial sentence, after spending nearly four years in arbitrary detention in relation to tweets and media interviews criticising Bahrain’s human rights record.
Mr. Nabeel Rajab is the co-founder and President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), as well as founding Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR). He was also re-elected as FIDH Deputy Secretary General in March 2020. He had been arbitrarily detained since 13th June 2016 in relation to two different criminal cases after he denounced the use of torture in Jaw prison and the killing of civilians by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. More details on his release is available here.
11. Renewed escalation of military action on Korean peninsula
Following the blowing up of the Joint Liaison Office by North Korea, the World Council of Churches have issued a statement concerning the renewed threats of military action, and how this has seriously negated the advances made in 2018. For more on the situation, read here.
12. Bishop John Sherrington: abortion statistics present “an increasing and terrible
This weekend we celebrate Day for Life. The theme this year is Choose Life which focuses on the protection of the unborn child, and care and support for pregnant women. Quite horrifyingly, many abortions every year are disability-selective, some for very minor conditions. To read the full article, click here.
13. UK Bishops protest over harsh measures in the Immigration Bill
In a strongly worded joint statement sent to opposition party leaders at Westminster, Catholic Bishops from Scotland and England & Wales have encouraged the UK Government to consider amendments to the Immigration Bill currently before parliament. Read the various points brought up here.
14. ‘Fracking is over’ – UK Energy Minister
Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK Energy Minister, was asked by Roger Johnson of BBC North West Tonight whether a shift to renewables marked the end of fracking. This is what he said…
15. Pope Francis speaking out against child labour
On Friday 12th June we marked ‘World Day against Child Labour’ and Pope Francis turned his thoughts to the victims of child labour. Read them here.
16. Lancaster Faith and Justice June 2020 Newsletter
A good mix of articles on Covid-19, and Black Lives Matter, along with various local information and articles. Click here to access it.
17. NW NJPN E-Bulletin – July 2020
Anne O’Connor writes:-
‘Two comments in Becoming, the recent Netflix documentary about MIchelle Obama, seem significant in the light of the killing of George Floyd and its aftermath. Obama said that although she became the most prominent person in the US, she never forgot that her great-grandmother had been a slave. She also expressed profound disappointment that Black Americans hadn’t bothered to vote in the 2016 election: it felt like a betrayal of what the first African American presidency had hoped to achieve. If the Black Lives Matter movement is to have real and (we hope) lasting success it will come through the ballot box, establishing strong support for change in Congress and the Senate, but this will only happen if Black and Hispanic communities turn out in force to vote in November. Following the weekend protests across the UK in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the US, it was disappointing but sadly not surprising to see the government’s reaction. Focusing on ‘damage‘ and ‘thuggery’ completely misses the point; likewise implying it’s a US issue only. A failed opportunity to engage with the many many people in the UK who suffer racial abuse. And a failure to read the signs of the times and show some much needed empathy.
The July edition of the NW NJPN E Bulletin is dominated by the brutal murder of George Floyd with several hard-hitting opinion pieces. Book reviews also feature as well as a look at how the poor have been adversely impacted by the Covid19 virus.” You can read it here….
Tragically, Anne lost her beloved daughter, Annie, just after producing the above newsletter. The thoughts and prayers of NJPN are with Anne O’Connor and her family at this sad time.
18. Biofuelwatch Newsletter
Biofuelwatch provides information, advocacy and campaigning in relation to the climate, environmental, human rights and public health impacts of large-scale industrial bioenergy. They have produced an interesting newsletter for June. Click on the link to read it here.
19. London Catholic Worker Newsletter for Spring 2020
Read about the things that the Catholic Worker are involved with, such as the Urban Table Soup Kitchen, and the Guiseppe Conlon House which offers hospitality to destitute refugees. Follow this link…
20. Summer 2020 Edition of ‘MouthPeace’
The quarterly magazine, jointly produced with the Shrewsbury Commission for the Promotion of Justice, Peace and Social Responsibility. Click here to read.
21. Birmingham Justice and Peace Commission Newsletter
The Summer edition of the newsletter is available to read here.
22. ‘See, I am making all things new’:
our Christian response to the COVID-19 crisis
This year in place of the Liverpool Archdiocese’s usual annual assembly, we will be hosting four events on Zoom,
On Sunday 28 June (7.30 – 8pm) Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald MAfr will offer a spiritual reflection, to open the week of events, then Monday 29 June (7.30 – 8.30pm) Fr Diarmuid O’Murchu MSC will discuss ‘framing the conversation’: local and national issues followed by breakout groups.
This will be followed on Wednesday 1 July (7.30 – 8.30pm) by Christine Allen, Director of CAFOD discussing international issues followed by breakout groups and the week will conclude on Saturday 4 July (10am – 12pm) with a sharing of responses to the earlier talks, followed by Q&A to a panel made up of the speakers and politicians.
The entirety of the week’s events will take place free of charge, on Zoom, for which places must be registered for, for free. It is possible to attend as many or as few events as you like. The talks, and panel discussion will also be available on Facebook, and YouTube.
For more details and to sign up, please click here.
23. Global Justice Now podcast
They explore what a post-lockdown world might look like and how it will affect the climate. A panel of international campaigners discuss why we need to treat the climate crisis as urgently as the Covid-19 pandemic, why challenging the free market ideology and committing to universal public healthcare is essential, and what actions we can take to win a brighter, greener future. Listen now.
24. Campaign Against Climate Change Webinar
On Tuesday 23rd June, 6.30-8pm, they are joining up with Reel News to show highlights of their inspiring ‘American Climate Rebels’ series, which reports on local struggles led by working class communities of colour – from hurricane recovery in Houston to setting up worker led cooperatives, and taking on fossil fuel corporations causing deadly air pollution, in a context of environmental racism.
We’ll have a Q&A with activists from some of the organisations talking about how things have developed since the film was made, and of course the Black Lives Matter uprising. For more information and to register, click here.
25. Peace, pandemics and plastic bottles – prioritising the future?
Join the Beckley Lecture on Monday 29th June 2020, from 7pm – 8.15pm given by Revd Dr Inderjit Bhogal OBE.
Inderjit will be talking from his many years’ experience as a public and practical theologian, about how our world and our churches face the challenges ahead. When it feels as if different priorities are competing, how can we respond with integrity to God’s call for justice and peace?
Inderjit will speak for around 45 minutes, with a chance for Q&A afterwards. The Lecture will be hosted on Zoom. Register here.
26. Invitation to join Christian CND at their regular prayer meetings.
Come together with like-minded Christians and pray. All welcome. The next prayer meeting takes place on Thursday 25th June at 12noon. For more information and a link to join the meeting email: CCNDdevelopment@cnduk.org
27. ‘Radical Presence’ – a course to build a sustainable, just and compassionate world
Join a weekly group with members of Green Christian using Zoom, Tuesdays at 7.30pm from 7 July, or Thursdays at 10.00am from 9 July. If you can’t make either of those, you can register for a future round.
Alternatively, run it with your church, network or organisation using the video-conferencing platform of your choice. Click here for more information.
28. Dominic Raab, the UK Foreign Secretary has backed the call for a global ceasefire.
We are now asking him to turn these actions into words.
Click here to support the Campaign Against the Arms Trade petition.
*** NJPN Action of the Week***
29. Students at Kings College London protest against close ties with
Israel Institute of Technology
Students at KCL have penned an open letter to their Vice Chancellor outlining Technion’s (Israel Institute of Technology) intimate ties with the Israeli military. To read more and to support the letter, click here.
30. Campaign Against Climate Change writes…
Firstly, there’s a need to take urgent action, as decisions are being taken in the next few weeks, to demand the government does not write blank cheques to polluting industries. We have to invest public money better: in protecting workers, taking urgent climate action, improving public services and reducing inequality. The campaign ‘Build Back Better’ has an online tool to write to your MP. And the Climate Coalition is organising an online lobby of MPs on Tuesday 30th June – you can find out more here.
Another relevant date is 24th June – the ITUC have called a global day of action for people to meet with employers and ask what their plans are to respond to the twin crises of employment and climate breakdown.
31. Campaign Against Arms Trade asking Labour to swap arms for renewables
The Labour Party is in the final weeks of a policy review, where it is consulting on proposals for a Green Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. If Labour’s vision is for the UK to rebuild its economy and move investment into jobs that create a safer world for people and planet, it must include a move away from the arms trade.
And right now, with momentum behind calls to end the sale of British made tear gas and rubber bullets to the USA, and to stop arming Saudi Arabia, we must push for Government support to be moved away from weapons and war and toward socially useful industries. You can find the consultation paper here. CAAT have summarised the key issues here.
32. Increase in Asylum Support Payments
People seeking asylum arrive in the UK fleeing war and persecution. They should find safety and support here, and not be exposed to more danger and hardship. However, while people wait for a decision on their asylum claim, they are banned from working and forced to be wholly reliant on asylum support of just £37 per week.
This support has always been utterly inadequate to meet people’s needs. During a pandemic, it makes it impossible to stay safe. Whilst Universal Credit has been increased by £20 per week, there has been no increase in asylum support.
Write to your MP and ask them to tell the Home Secretary that asylum support must be increased as a matter of urgency.
33. Friends of the Earth e-petition to the Government
The UK government is about to decide whether to keep using billions of pounds in public funds to support the fossil fuel industry overseas, according to insiders.
An eye-watering £3.5 billion is claimed to have been used to back climate-wrecking fossil fuel projects since the Paris climate accord was signed in 2016.
From China to Brazil, your money is being used to help the fossil fuel industry exploit other countries’ natural resources for profit. Friends of the Earth are asking us to sign their petition to the Government, asking for our money not to be used to fuel the climate emergency. Click here.
34. Chlorinated Chicken – just say no.
Chlorinated chicken is primarily an animal welfare issue. Washes such as chlorine are used to compensate for birds being kept in dirty, crowded, low welfare conditions where bacteria are more likely to spread. This has been banned in the UK for more than twenty years.
Despite all its promises, the government is offering to allow chlorinated chicken as part of a US-UK trade deal. Email your MP today to express your concern.
35. Stop annexation now.
The new Israeli Government has said that it intends to annex large swathes of Palestinian land in the West Bank, starting in July; land which was militarily occupied in 1967. This would be the culmination of years of appropriation of land – through the forced displacement of Palestinians, settlement and the annexation of East Jerusalem. Annexation, illegal under international law, is the forcible and unilateral acquisition of territory over which it has no recognised sovereignty and to make it an integral part of the state – in this case, Israel.
Please sign the petition to the UK Government to support measures against Israel’s illegal annexation of the occupied West Bank now.
36. Local Government Pension Scheme Funds Complicit Investments
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has uncovered the fact that local government pension funds invest over £2billion in companies complicit in Israel’s war crimes. Israel can only maintain its grave breaches of international law and Palestinian human rights because of products, equipment and services it receives from a range of companies and financial institutions. To read about their findings, and see how you can help, click here.
37. Operation Noah webinar on church investments in major oil companies
We previously advertised the Operation Noah webinar, which took place on the 12th June. It is now available on YouTube .An excellent resource, it can be watched here.
37 Holiday hunger provision during Covid-19 – how TLG Make Lunch is adapting
A new Life on the Breadline blog post is now available. We hear from Jasmine Le Ny from TLG on how their Make Lunch programme is adapting to help families during the Covid-19 pandemic. Click here to read.
THE LAST WORD
24. A personal tribute to Annie O’Connor –
‘Don’t just live the length of life, live the breadth of it as well.’
This week, we are doing something different. As mentioned earlier in this ebulletin, NJPN NW Editor Anne O’Connor lost her daughter Annie suddenly last weekend. Annie was someone who lived life to the full, and as the Gospel intended. She was a genuinely good person.
Anne has written a very personal tribute to her daughter, Annie, and we would like to share it with you here…
Our darling daughter Annie died of natural causes on 12 June aged only 41. It was very sudden and unexpected. Annie died too soon and we are all devastated by our loss but our family has been overwhelmed by the love and support shown us which has been so helpful in carrying us through this dark time.
We‘ve been inundated with comments and cards – many mention her liveliness, her laughter, her warmth, her ability to connect with, welcome and reach out to people of every kind, always looking out for the stranger or someone who felt they were an ‘outsider’.
She was a compassionate, gentle, non-judgmental listener who brought out the best in her students and friends.
These are just some of the comments we’ve received: ‘Annie spent her life serving God and others.’ ‘Thank God for the gift of her life in the world – she did so much good.’ ‘In her lifetime she had achieved what many do not manage in twice as much time on earth. I think the Lord will surely say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.’ ‘ She certainly lived life to the full and packed so much into her short time on earth. She reached out to so many people.‘ ‘Working with Annie was SO much fun. Yet amidst all the silliness, she taught me a huge amount about faith, hope and love.’
We found a small notebook on Annie’s desk with just one entry which, given the circumstances, seemed prophetic: ‘Don’t just live the length of life; live the breadth of it as well.’
Annie’s faith was central to her life. A friend from the same school year remembers seeing her at weekends in the village pub where she was always the life and soul of the crowd. He told me he was always impressed at the deep faith of her special friendship group in their teenage years. Indeed, the group met once a week before school to pray together as well as their regular Sunday evening meeting which she often led.
Annie went to Sheffield University to read American Studies in 1997 and never left the city, apart from a year at UNC Chapel Hill as part of her course where she integrated fully with US students rather than sticking with the ex-pat group. After a year as chaplaincy assistant – where her role involved welcoming and being available for students and leading liturgies – she took a degree in Biblical Studies, learning Hebrew and Greek, and continued her studies to gain an M.Phil. Teaching RE followed at a Sixth Form College in Nottingham travelling every day from Sheffield. She was later asked to teach Philosophy and decided to broaden her knowledge by taking a degree in PPE with the Open University graduating with First Class Honours.
She joined Church Army’s Training Team in October 2016. It was the perfect job, combining her Scripture knowledge, easy manner with people from all walks of life and her skill in writing and delivering resources. Being a Catholic added another dimension to the team.
Church Army works in some of the most deprived communities in the UK and Ireland, working with children and teenagers, the elderly and everyone in between. It also serves those who are homeless, lonely, those experiencing self-harm, who are at risk of gang or knife crime, the unemployed and those who are struggling to make ends meet.
Annie was also involved in various ecumenical and evangelistic initiatives in Sheffield and beyond including many years as a Samaritans’ volunteer, often doing the night shift despite working full time. She was a key member of the Night Fever Mission team in Sheffield – an evening of prayer, music, contemplation and outreach at St Marie’s Cathedral which takes place two or three times a year. Many of those who are invited in have no previous experience of church and enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere Annie and others provided.
She loved travelling and visited many countries: USA, Australia, the Far East, North Africa, Kenya and parts of Europe. She had friends from many parts of the world and enjoyed being part of the international community in Sheffield. She was a keen walker, exploring the countryside in the UK. She also made a walking pilgrimage in April 2016 from Sheffield to the shrine in Walsingham in Norfolk, journeying 15 or so miles a day. On one of the days she met some ladies who were running a food bank. She wrote: ‘They gave me tea and biscuits and made a fuss of me – after meeting with them briefly word of my pilgrimage seemed to spread in the town, so that people approached me in the street and in the pub of the next town to ask if I was the one walking to Walsingham …’ Each evening she wrote a blog of her reflections, ending on the last day with a quote from Helen Keller: ‘Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing at all.’
A highlight for her was making the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. James, Christina and Catherine have signed up to make the pilgrimage on a virtual basis in her memory: https://www.facebook.com/608650595820049/posts/3264336950251387/?d=n
In August 2012 and August 2013, she volunteered in a Children’s Home near Nairobi, Kenya. The Home was established in 2005 by a local woman, Teresia, to care for destitute children from the streets of Nairobi. Typically these children have been victims of abuse or neglect. Some of them are orphans; all of them are vulnerable. Teresia went out into the streets to find children and offer them a home. When Annie visited there were over 100 children being cared for. The organisation, Heritage of Faith and Hope, has established a school in the Mlolongo area and its students are doing extremely well. Lives have been transformed and education has enabled these children to lift themselves out of drug addiction, poverty and despair.
Annie wrote: ‘Volunteering in the Home is an uplifting and enriching experience. My tasks include playing with the small children (who get very little one-to-one attention), teaching them basic Art, English and Maths, weighing tomatoes and other food, logging donations, helping to set up basic computer systems and helping to sell the Home’s produce in the local community. When I visited in 2013, my friends Teresia and Joseph took me to another Home that they have recently set up in Murang’a, which is about three hours away from Nairobi. This new Home has very little – no sanitation, no water, no electricity, very little food, no money for clothes or school fees. So this new Home in Murang’a has become my personal charity project.’
Annie continued to raise funds for the project which she sent regularly to Kenya. We plan to keep the charity going in her honour.
Annie was our middle child of five, although only seven minutes older than her twin Joe. She is survived by her brothers James, Matt, Joe and her sister Catherine, James and Christina’s children Cormac 13, Maggie 11, Maeve 8, Lorcan 5 and Ambrose 2, Matt and Caroline’s daughter Eve 3 and Joe and Laura’s twins Rosie and Isabelle 3 as well as many godchildren.
Annie was always a very hands-on aunt and godmother. She loved visiting the little ones and playing all sorts of silly games.
Our middle three were only 18 months apart and they were very close: people were sometimes unsure which two were the twins. Growing up with three brothers Annie often hoped for a sister. There were nearly ten years between her and Catherine but in adulthood the gap diminished and they became close friends. It was a privilege and a great joy to have known her but sadly for such a short while. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.
We plan to play this at her graveside service – friends have said they sung this at the Sheffield Chaplaincy and on Holy Island retreats:
I arise today through the strength of heaven Light of sun,
radiance of moon
Splendour of fire, speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind, depth of the sea
Stability of earth, firmness of rock
I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me
God’s eye to look before me
God’s wisdom to guide me
God’s way to lie before me
God’s shield to protect me
From all who shall wish me ill
Afar and a-near
Alone and in a multitude
Against every cruel, merciless power
That may oppose my body and soul
Christ with me, Christ before me
Christ behind me, Christ in me
Christ beneath me, Christ above me
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down
Christ when I arise, Christ to shield me
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me
I arise today
Based on St Patrick’s Breastplate
If this time by Kevin McCormack – a beautiful poem; written for the coronavirus pandemic, but so very relevant to Annie, and the huge loss that her family are feeling. .
Church Minister, Alison Woodling, who, in a short space of time has lost both her sister, and her good friend Annie, writes this rather uplifting Reflection…
Today I Choose Life
I will not let grief and death have the last word!
I will not let this blinding pain of grief blind me to the light that still shines brightly in the darkness, nay, it shines even brighter now!
I once read, “we have to let heaven be in us before we can be in heaven”.
The recent sudden loss of two sisters, one blood, one friend, both soul, has opened to me a gateway to a new wondering.
This vista before my eyes is a fresh horizon – as crisp as a bright spring morning.
As I turn purposefully to face this new dawn – all the shadows of the past fall away and I realise I’ve been facing in the wrong direction all this time.
The shadows I saw in front of me were the shadows of my former self as my back was to the light,
And so, through their deaths, I have turned to face the glory of the light they have both been drawn into,
the shadows of the past are cast in their proper place, which is right behind me,
they stretch on in a long thin haze until they disappear in the distance and are no more.
As I stand at this still point of transition, the pain of grief still weighs heavy in my heart but does not bring me down, no! because the strength of the joy of life and love keep me upright.
So as I choose to look at life from the other direction, yes, I am blinded once again but this time not by the stinging hot tears of grief but I am blinded, or rather dazzled by a beauty and a truth I can’t yet comprehend… blinded by the pure transfiguring light of eternity!
I realise, this is the direction they walked in when they were tenderly taken by the hand and led home, led to a place where it is promised that ‘pain will be no more, death and grief and pain will not be there and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’.
So I see that they are not gone, they are right there ahead of us, it’s just we cannot yet see as they do.
Today I choose to stand in awe and be dazzled by this revelation.
I hope tomorrow I will have all the strength and assurance to re-orientate my path and make a conscious decision to always walk forward,
mindful that the light guides my present, puts my past in perspective and is a beacon forever calling me onwards to the home where we all belong,
may I walk in this light all the days of my life.
But oh, wait, there is no tomorrow,
we have never had any guarantees, all we have is now, only this moment!
so here I come,
in this moment I take that first step, which is always the hardest step to take, and I choose…
to walk into life.
Alison Woodling 18 June 2020
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