Well done everyone – our cathedral of St John the Baptist here in Norwich has just been awarded the Cafod Live Simply Award, following a year of hard work and commitment from the parish community.

The journey began following a series of talks exploring Pope Francis’ Encyclical(letter) ‘Laudato Si’ and a desire to try and put into practice care for creation, for our environment and communities here and abroad.

It was decided to commit to working towards the Cafod Live Simply award and a core group drawn from many parish groups was then formed.

In essence there are three key strands to the award-demonstrating living simply, living sustainably and living in solidarity with the poor.

Monthly meetings were scheduled under the stewardship of the chairperson Joan MacInnes who ensured roles were shared and meetings timely and productive.

Monthly events or campaigns were planned throughout the year to appeal across age ranges and encourage involvement from as many as possible.

Following “the launch” a really essential and interesting exercise early on in the process, was a parish audit to discover what was already in place, what groups were engaged in, so that we could see which would be developed. For example it was found as John’s Cathedral had been awarded Eco-friendly Cathedral status previously – we had among other things a biomass boiler, LED lights within the Cathedral and Narthex. Our garden under the stewardship of gardener Zana and her volunteers produced food for the cafe and compost all garden waste. The parish had links with Peru, Malawi and local refugees and asylum seekers.

We shared this with parishioners in a Live Simply leaflet , banner and posters.

It was decided the focus for solidarity with the poor would be our links with Tambogrande Peru and supporting asylum seekers and refugees locally, support for The Norwich Foodbank and Lampedusa Stations of the Cross.

The focus for sustainability was building on the Eco Status of the cathedral and encouraging and challenging parishioners to adopt measures in their own lives and developing the garden project, recycling and car share.

The focus for Livesimply action was incorporating the essence of Laudato Si into the parish programmes for children and young people, through liturgy, action and participation. Also included was developing a Garden of Contemplation and a Sponsored Water Walk.

It’s been a successful and fruitful year with many highlights and this is the story of our journey to “Live simply so that others may simply live….”(Pope Francis)

Achievements of the year

  • Created a small garden of contemplation which all are welcome to come for some peace and quiet in the city.
  • Volunteers grow food in the Cathedral garden that is used in the cafe, waste from the cafe goes to make compost for the garden.
  • A sponsored water walk, which raised over£1,000 for Malawi and Peru.
  • Children’s summer camps, where they learn about climate change and caring for creation.
  • Lampedusa cross liturgy, using the cross and CAFOD prayers in Lent where they wrote messages of hope for refugees.
  • Rucksacks of toiletries and cleaning products packed and distributed to refugees in Norwich.
  • Changed most of the lights in the Cathedral to LEDs, saving energy in lighting.

Quotes from CAFOD and the Live Simply team:

“The community at St John’s Cathedral should be proud to receive the livesimply award for the amazing work they have done. I was really impressed by how outward-looking this parish is, which is clearly shown in the way in which they have involved the whole parish and have worked together with so many different groups and individuals in the area. They have also looked further afield, generously supporting communities living in poverty overseas, and at their own lives, identifying ways that they can reuse resources, care for the environment and provide a warm welcome to all those who come into contact with the Cathedral. I’m delighted that St John’s has become the 2nd livesimply Cathedral and the recipient of the 27th award.”
Sarah Hagger-Holt
Campaign Engagement Manager

Andy Clark (livesimply group member):
“The livesimply award has provided an opportunity for people to get engaged with things. It is an opportunity to see how others in the parish live out their faith. I really enjoyed being part of the sponsored water walk, which raised £1,300. It was a chance to walk alongside each other and get to know people you might not have spoken to before. Walking gave us the chance to share stories. It was an antidote to the rush and bustle of life. The same is true for the garden, and those who work in it, here at the Cathedral. We all need time to stop and step back”

Joan MacInnes:(Livesimply group chairperson)
“Working towards the livesimply award has been so good for the parish, because it has got so many different people involved. If you give a group or an individual an opportunity to do something, they will respond. It’s been good fun too, for all ages, especially the children’s summer camp. We will definitely keep going. We had our Recycle Sunday in April, and people are continuing to use the recycle bins. Our support for refugees locally will continue. New groups, like the parish walking group, have been set up to continue some of the activities we’ve started this year. It’s been a really positive exercise for us and has touched every aspect of parish life; from the garden, where volunteers work together to grow food for the cafe, to young people’s groups learning to care for creation, to the visitors who come to the Cathedral.”