The LiveSimply group at St John Vianney, West Green, was presented with the award after the 11am Mass on Sunday 22 September by two LiveSimply assessors: Ellen Teague, journalist and member of the Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Team, and Simon Brown of Eco-Congregation and A Rocha UK, who was cheered for arriving on his bike! The award plaque, made from a recycled church bench, applauds ‘Living simply, sustainably, and in solidarity with the poor’, and notes that the award is organised jointly between CAFOD and Eco-Congregation. Around 200 parishioners attended the joyful presentation.
Leading LiveSimply group members John Mooney, Mariantha Fomenky and West Green parish priest Fr Joe Ryan said it was “a great honour to receive the Award”. Fr Ryan, who also chairs the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission, added that “this is only the beginning of an on-going programme to reduce the parish carbon footprint and develop our mission to serve people in need and protect God’s creation”. Mariantha Fomenky plans to reach out to the local community, “engaging the Mayor, local councillors and MPs, and encouraging more people to join the campaign”.
Parish work towards the award started in July 2011 with a parish audit, perusing 100 LiveSimply ideas, and then building on what the parish was already doing. For example, there were already a number of prayer groups and these began using the LiveSimply prayer, which was then introduced to Masses on the first Sunday of each month.
Then over two years, individual parishioners signed up to live more sustainably, reduce their energy use, and walk to church. Supporting local charity shops, cooking leftovers and growing fruit and vegetables in their gardens were all embraced by enthusiastic parishioners. The parish has marked Fairtrade Fortnight, supported a homeless project in Central London and the Catholic Worker House in North London which serves homeless refugees. In the aftermath of the 2012 Tottenham riots, the LiveSimply group worked with North London Citizens to affirm and support the whole community in the area.
Financial support for CAFOD and involvement in its campaigns on Aid, Trade, Water and Food was acknowledged by Tony Sheen of CAFOD Westminster, who attended the presentation and thanked the group.
The LiveSimply Award is a national recognition given to Catholic parishes who have committed themselves to making a difference both in their community and the world. To earn the award, a parish must put into practice three LiveSimply practices under each of the headings of living simply, living sustainably, and living in solidarity with those who live in poverty. St John Vianney is one of two parishes in the Westminster Diocese, and seven in England and Wales, to earn the award”.