The church of Mary Immaculate and St Peter’s in New Barnet, is to become the 36th parish in the country and the fifth to receive the Livesimply award.
The Livesimply award is an opportunity for Catholic communities to respond to Pope Francis’ invitation in Laudato si’ to ‘work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us’.
It is awarded to communities who can show how they have been living: simply, in solidarity with people in poverty and sustainably with creation.
The New Barnet parish, which becomes the first Livesimply parish in the diocese explained their work over the past four years, starting with securing Livesimply pledges from more than 80 parishioners in 2014 and keeping in regular contact with them by text messaging and email. They have been active in CAFOD campaigns, collecting goods for refugees in Calais, and a ‘friendship’ project which reaches out to vulnerable and housebound people. The parish halso has a strong commitment to Fairtrade, being a Fairtrade parish since 2014.
The church’s commitment to the environment was also evident in the architecture of the building. When the parish hall was refurbished in recent years, LED lighting was installed, along with water efficient toilets, insulation and double glazing. The parish has held Livesimply focus weekends, and initiatives feature regularly in the parish weekly newsletter.
The church has also started a bee garden to attract bees and a peace garden with olive trees. Fairtrade olive oil from Palestine is sold in the parish and Pax Christi peace liturgies are held in the peace garden in the warmer months. Lenten reflections were often focused on caring for creation, CAFOD bidding prayers are used regularly, there has been regular study of Laudato si’ and there is an annual Creation Mass plus Livesimply themes brought into children’s liturgies.
The assesors were impressed by the support for the local ecumenical winter night shelter and food bank and the parishes commitment to recycling and raising awareness about the need to recycle, reuse and reduce waste. There is a strong link with a local Poor Clares community who have given talks in the parish about living simply and have engaged with First Holy Communion candidates. There was recent outreach to a local shopping centre to persuade it to install water taps and reduce the purchase of bottled water and fizzy drinks.
If you would like to know more about the award contact CAFOD Westminster on 0208 449 6970 or see our web page cafod.org.uk/livesimply