What Lit Your Flame?



Katja Jewell, Diocesan Manager for North Wales shares what lit her flame:

CAFOD and I were both born in the very year, when the Catholic Church decided to go through radical, amazingly enlightened changes, which are still causing ripples in our church today. It was called the Second Vatican Council. But other wonderful words or letters, called encyclicals, were written in the past hundred years, which are sadly too often forgotten or unknown; words which really make me proud to be a Christian or a catholic. Together they are referred to as the Catholic Social Teaching of the Church.  In fact when I went for my interview with CAFOD I had to familiarise myself with some of the documents.

Pope Paul VI wrote Populorum Progressio –The Development of Peoples in 1967. Even now, the encyclical remains as prophetic as ever, and nourishes the Church’s understanding of development and social justice:

It is not just a question of eliminating hunger and reducing poverty.   It is not just a question of fighting wretched conditions, though this is an urgent and necessary task. It involves building a human community where people can live truly human lives, free from discrimination on account of race, religion or nationality, free from servitude to others or to natural forces. It involves building a human community where liberty is not an idle word, where the needy Lazarus can sit down with the rich man at the same banquet table.’

CAFOD and I grew up in the seventies and eighties. When my Parish priest told us that in Brazil people live in massive slums little did I know then, that CAFOD was there already, standing alongside the poor. Much later, when I read, now in my twenties that some families had slept in the same Slums for over 3 generations on dump heaps, CAFOD was still there, feeding them, demanding their rights, comforting them and praying with and for them. And they still are there, working and praying for “Just one World”.

Today I feel privileged that I can make a difference to my sisters and brothers in Brazil with the help of our amazing volunteer network and overseas colleagues.

I had the immense pleasure of having one of the best RE teachers in the world, Herr Wachter. When I was about 17, he took a group of us to spend 5 days in a Benedictine Convent, Kellenried in the South of Germany, on a sort of work experience , although none of us really were aiming to enter a convent, but wanted to experience monastic life.

These 5 days turned out to be one of the most formative days in my life. We were asked to join this contemplative order in silent work, prayer and singing, but also joined them in laughter and friendship. After more than 30 years I am still in touch with the convent and especially Sister Hedwig.There I have learned how important it is to root our actions in prayer and in contemplation. In our busy lives we must not forget to spend time in silence in God’s presence.

14th-century Christian mystic Meister Eckhart said, “Nothing in all creation is so like God as silence.”

To rediscover silence, is to rediscover God.





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