The CAFOD Annual Mass of Thanksgiving took place at the parish of ‘St Oswald’s’ in Old Swan on Thursday 18th July 2013. It was extra special this year as we were joined by the St Margaret Mary’s folk choir who sang beautifully throughout the Mass. The Principal Celebrant was Fr Michael Fitzsimons. During Mass Jess Matthews (CAFOD’s Regional Support Officer for West Africa and the Great Lakes) spoke about one of CAFOD’s projects in the DRC which she visited last year-the listening rooms which is funded by CAFOD’s partner CDJP.
Jess spoke about one inspirational woman she met called Celine (her name has been changed to protect her identity). Celine is 44 and a mother of 18 children, with 13 surviving. Her eldest is 26 and her youngest is 2. On 4th October 2010 Celine’s village was attacked and her house was looted. They came into her house at night when everyone was in bed. She doesn’t know how many different men raped her. She was four months pregnant when she was raped. It was so traumatic that she is no longer able to give birth and had to have a full hysterectomy. She spent a month at Panzi Hospital to recover. Once she was released from hospital the family moved in fear of being attacked again. Her husband’s shop was completely looted so they left with nothing and are currently living in another family’s home while they save enough money to get a new home. When she left the hospital she was given a kit with kitchen items and some fresh clothes. Celine joined SIMAMA (CAFOD’s partner) and makes bags, which provides the families only income. She is healthy and has the strength to work and is now a community leader giving hope to women who have also suffered similar experiences!
After Jess spoke, members of the congregation signed messages of hope and solidarity which will be sent to women involved in the listening room projects. The message they wrote read ‘E cinyabuguma co cilwisa engwi.’ This message in the local DRC dialect, Mashi, means, “There is strength in unity.’
After Mass, Imelda and Agnes, parishioners from St Oswald’s, provided the refreshments while members of the congregation were able to chat with Jess and ask her any questions they had!
We would like to give a special thanks to everyone who made the night so special!
You can also download a copy of the Mass booklet here:
Here are some of the photos that were taken too: