CAFOD livesimply

St Johns has registered to become a CAFOD livesimply parish. We are on a journey....

The livesimply challenge is an opportunity for Catholic communities - parishes, schools, religious orders and chaplaincies - 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”.

More than 40 parishes have registered to accept the livesimply challenge.

What is the CAFOD livesimply challenge?

It is a challenge to communities who can show how they have been living:

  • Simply through spiritual action.
  • In solidarity with people in poverty.
  • Sustainably with creation.

Some livesimply communities have encouraged people to walk or cycle to church or school, join a climate change campaign, or donate to a local food bank. The registration celebrates what we have already done and inspires us to do more. It helps our community to live, not just more simply, but also more fully.

Registering for the livesimply challenge

To register we were able to demonstrate to CAFOD that our parishioners are:

  • Praying for peace in the world through praying the rosary together before weekend masses.
  • Working in solidarity with people in poverty through being an integral part of the Churches Together Soup Run, and also through the support of our charities that give aid to the developing world.
  • In the process of creating the River Avon Garden project to sustain God’s creation of flowers, birds and insects.

Qualifying for a livesimply award

To qualify for a CAFOD livesimply award we will need to pass an assessment by independent CAFOD assessors. It means looking at how as a community we can live even more simply so that others can simply live.

Do you have suggestions to share? Please email Irene Prentice, CAFOD contact at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Our registration certificate can be viewed here.

CAFOD: Northern Uganda agricultural challenges

A report of a recent talk by guest speaker Alex Abaca, who gives a first hand account of the positive interventions by the local Catholic Church and CAFOD/CARITAS in addressing ecological, water and agricultural challenges in Northern Uganda can be read here.

Raising funds for the East African drought

A team from the Bath-based energy efficiency consultancy B:SSEC Ltd has completed a 70km hike across the Lake District to raise funds to tackle the on-going drought in East Africa.

The B:SSEC team, comprised of Paul Bennett, Wayne Ward and Chris Joyce, raised over £870 during last month’s trek for CAFOD, the official aid agency of the Catholic church.

For more details click here.

Calling Young Adults

CAFOD Gap Year volunteer vacancies are open for 18-30 year olds.

Last year, a student from Trowbridge went on a CAFOD Gap year. More information can be found on the CAFOD website at

Laudato Sí Parliamentary debate

The motion was intended to set the scene for a parliamentary session in which backbenchers could give their views to the government on the forthcoming Paris Climate Change Conference which aims for a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.


David Packham attended on behalf of CAFOD and has provided this summary report.

SPICMA Famine Aid

The Karamoja region in northeast Uganda has struggled with drought conditions periodically for many years. The rural population is especially poor and life becomes precarious very quickly when the rains fail, as they have in recent months.

Mill Hill Missionaries Frs Mitema and Ignatius are in charge of Loyoro and Panyangara vast parishes and asked for our help to purchase maize, beans, oil and salt for the most vulnerable. We sent £30,000 in late 2018 and another £40,000 so far this year. This week they reported that their distributions have become more frightening with huge numbers of people arriving, despite limited available supplies. This situation has been exacerbated by the suspension of The United Nation’s World Food Programme operations, following the suspected contamination of their cereal mix which has led to sickness among many recipients and some deaths.

SPICMA has worked in this part of Uganda for decades. We know these MHM Missionary priests and want to support them in this difficult and harrowing time. If you wish to help us, please send a donation to SPICMA, PO Box 299, Cirencester GL7 9FP. More infortmation can be found at

Thank you

Paddy Phelan

BATH, Hon. Director SPICMA

SPICMA Famine Report

Please read the latest report from the priests dealing with the famine in the Loyoro and Panyangara parishes, Karamoja, Uganda.

If you would like to offer support please contact SPICMA via their website.

Urgent Famine Appeal

"St Joseph’s Catholic Parish covers two government sub- counties of Panyangara and Nakapelimoru with a total population of 67,392 people. These people live mainly in the villages and can barely afford a meal a day.

Late in April and early May, we were blessed with some rains and we were happy that people could get some wild vegetables to eat as hunger was be- coming a big issue. Unfortunately the rains were brief and the vegetables failed. This increased the hunger situation and now there is lot of hunger. Many people on a daily basis are requesting food aid. These are few compared to those who are really badly off in the surrounding villages. We really need a lot of assistance urgently. We therefore ask you please for urgent funds. Thanks and God’s blessings."

Fr Tatah Johnson MHM

You can download the donation form here.

SPICMA update and appeal

Click here for the latest SPICMA Pakistan and Uganda update and appeals.

A SPICMA message

50 Years of Helping the Missionary Church and the People of the Developing World

Back in 1967 a young man from North London named Bernard Phelan was ordained a Mill Hill Missionary priest. Those who knew him – family, friends and parishioners – decided to raise money to send to him out in Uganda, his first posting. No one could have known that this small and resourceful group would evolve into SPICMA, providing help and hope to tens of thousands of people across much of the developing world. Today, in addition to providing emergency aid, SPICMA finances dozens of projects every year. It also assists the Church in the construction and improvement of facilities in poor parishes which would have no means of raising the sums required locally.

What makes SPICMA different? SPICMA works through the structure of the Church. Everyone is a volunteer. No salaries are paid to anyone and, to keep costs as low as possible, all work is done out of the homes of volunteers.

SPICMA can act quickly. Being small can be a useful thing. When there is a disaster, whether localised or on a large scale, SPICMA is often able to respond before the larger charities like the famine in Karamoja currently.

If you would like to join us please contact Spicma P.O. Box 299, Cirencester, GL7 9FP Tel: 0300 3020016

Famine - Xavier appeal

The shadow of famine has returned to Karamoja, Uganda. Fr Mitema MHM has asked for your help in feeding the people of his parish of Loyoro and the neighbouring parish of Panyangara.

For more details and how to donate click here.

Karamoja Drought

Again Karamoja is once again facing a dry spell at a very critical time. The people were very glad to welcome the rains at the beginning of April. People went out to cultivate. The crops were growing very well. Unfortunately, since mid May there has not been any rain.

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The rain cut short many people who were still cultivating. The crops that had been planted at the beginning of rains had grown up and some had now started flowering but unfortunately because of the heat they are now withering and dying.

What is happening in Karamoja now is a major disaster. We are facing a second year of total crop failure. The maize that were planted have now died. The sorghum which is normally much more resistant are also now starting to die. With sorghum crop gone, the situation for the farmers is dire. Farming here is subsistence farming. What they get primarily for local consumption with little or no surplus for trade. Moreover it is not just the loss of crop that we are talking about, farmers invested their money, time and energy in the farms all that is now gone.

With the crops gone, there is no food and no money. The desperate situation that we thought was soon passing is now with us again. Very soon there will be no vegetables which have supplemented the little food that people had. The people are becoming restless. Thievery and violence are becoming common. Worst of all we are also experiencing a wave of suicide. Within Panyangara Parish alone there has been six suicides since March this year.

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Meanwhile the situation of the old people, the sick and the children is increasingly becoming bad. Even among those that are getting support from us things are not easy. The little support they get they have to share it with the larger family members. As a result some of those who are sickly have died. it is even worst with those who are HIV positive since they cannot take drugs without eating any solid food

However, there is still some glimpse of hope. There are still some dark clouds gathering. If the rains were to come back soon, some crops could still survive. In which case the harvest will be poor but at least there will be something. In the month of May and part of June, Caritas Kotido distributed some food in parts of Kotido town area. The World Food Programme with their partners are also continuing with their normal distribution. Sadly they have not scaled it up.

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SPICMA 201604 06 On our part we were once again very pleased to receive the donation of £30,000.00 which came in June. It has helped us to serve the people well this month. As usual we are gating very huge numbers of desperate people but we do our best to serve as much as we can. We are very grateful to SPICMA and the donors for all your support. Thank you Your help is saving lives here in Karamoja.

Fr. Sylvester Odhiambo
Mill Hill Missionary


Famine Situation in Karamoja

In the last few days we have been blessed by rain and we hope that this is the beginning of rainy season which will eventually bring food. However, at the moment the hunger situation on the ground is very unbearable.

The draught went on for far too long. The people were already becoming restless due to the prolonged draught and the unusual hot temperatures. The elders offered several sacrifices for the rains therefore the coming of rain is a big relief.

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Coping mechanism

The coming of the rain is a blessing and we hope and pray that it will continue. In the short term the rain is going to help with coping mechanism and in the long run we hope that it will solve the problem of hunger. In the short term there going to be plenty of wild vegetables and fruits which will go a long way in supplementing the food. With the rain also a lot of people will be hired as casual labourers in the farms of those who are better off. As casual labourers they will earn one meal per day. The sale of charcoal and firewood will also go up. Therefore those who are in good health should be able to cope with the hunger.


Unfortunately, the current household coping mechanisms are not sustainable. In the short term they will provide the most needed relief but in the long term it will keep majority of productive people in the cycle of food insecurity. Those who are hired as casual labourer in other people’s farms will not cultivate their own farms. Those who resort to sell firewood and charcoal too will have no time to cultivate their farms. Unfortunately the coming of rain also does come with high vulnerability to diseases. The possibilities of outbreak of disease like Cholera during rainy season are high. This is due to poor hygiene and poor nutrition. Therefore there is still need for external aid to help people bounce back to normal livelihoods.

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The beneficiaries of our food aid are people whose situation is dire.

They are mostly old men and women, HIV/AIDS positive people, malnourished people and extremely poor households. As much as the coming of rain is a relief, these people will still need support. All along these people have been forced to share the food they receive with their relatives. In fact, for some, we had to resort to giving them their ratio daily just to make sure that they have something to eat. Otherwise their relatives would eat all their food in just few days.

We are also helping some who are extremely malnourished to receive medical care and taking care of some orphans whose parents died due to dieses and hunger.

The last grant of £10,000 (47,107,158/= UGX) arrived in our account on 22nd of March 2016 and it is not yet used. This money will be able to help us in this current month. We would appreciate if we could continue up to July.

It is our hope that by July the situation would have started to change for the better. Ideally by that time the beans should be ready and by August the sorghum should be ready.

On behalf of the beneficiaries I say thanks to SPICMA and to all the donors. Your donation has helped to save lives. The situation is bad but with your help it has become bearable to some people who would be dead by now.

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Sylvester Odhiambo

Panyangara Catholic Parish


St. John's Garden

Overview Donations Marian Devotion Archive
We have been working to restore our beautiful Riverside Garden for the enjoyment of the local community, visitors to Bath and all the natural inhabitants.

Aerial view of St Johns in 1943 - notice the children playing in the playground

The St. John's Garden had remained neglected and overgrown for many years before the initiative was taken to restore it. We started back in early 2017 and started by raising the funds necessary to pay for materials and to gathering volunteers to work in the garden during their free time.

If you’re interested in visiting the Statue of Our Lady of Bath, Queen of Peace, please download these directions. The Garden is open daily from 8am to 5pm.

2017 - Light in the Darkness



March 2017 - 25 Bags of Rubbish were removed and 10 Tonnes of Soil was re-distributed. We have done our best to re-use all that we find and, through a generous donation of reclaimed stones and acquiring second-hand Railings and Gates, we aspired to beautify what was once a dark and tragic space.

Supported by Canon David Ryan, Parish Priest, a team of volunteers was assembled to help with the heavy clean up required to cleanse the space and allow for safe access.

March - April 2017 - The area at the north side of the Garden began to take shape


August 2017 - Four tonnes of reclaimed bath stone was donated by a generous benefactor and the foundation work for the garden could begin.

September 2017 - Nothing happens without Prayer and our Parish Community and the Bath Deanery rallied around to begin to bless the Garden with hymns and prayers of peace for the world.

December 2017 - Tools down for the winter and the Garden was allowed to rest, meanwhile a Maquette of Our Lady was presented by Artist & Sculptor Ben Dearnley for Parish feedback.
2018 - Preparing for Our Lady of Bath

As the project unfolded and light was brought into the Garden, discussions of a Statue of Our Lady began to take shape, concurrently the Bishops Conference of England & Wales released an announcement that England will be Rededicated as Our Lady’s Dowry in 2020.

We hope and pray that our Statue of Our Lady of Bath does justice to the rich history of Statues of Our Lady that once adorned the land.

For more information regarding Our Lady’s Dowry and what it means please visit

January 2018 - An early start with Canon David getting stuck in to keep us on track for completion. Before any more work could be completed however our Yew Trees had to be trimmed to allow for more light and to reduce the burden on the Riverbank Wall.

February 2018 - View from the Eastside of the River Avon and the new tree line reveals the splendor of the Church and brings light into the Garden.

May 2018 - Flowers arrive for Our Lady and are placed in a new Healing In Bed, with members of the Parish donating Flowers and Shrubs to help bring the Garden to Life. We see the arrival of Bees and Butterflies!

June 2018 - Thanks to support from our neighbour Hein, we are able to collect our new Reclaimed Railings from Wales. Our Railing Team forms to help restore 16 Railings and replace our existing wire fencing. The team spend time sanding down the Railings and then paint them to bring traditional Victorian grace to the Garden. The Youth Group have their first Bonfire & Sing-a-long of the Year.

7th July 2018 - Our Stone arrives and a huge team effort sees it arrive safely with Canon Michael English present to greet the team with prayer and thanksgiving. Ben Dearnley our resident Sculptor begins to form and learn about the stone.


July 2018 - Ben assesses the monumental task ahead of him as he tackles the biggest project of his career. He begins by shaping the stone and beginning the frame of the statue by removing the excess stone.


July 2018 - Meanwhile, work continues in the garden as we keep cleaning out the space and getting ready for the railings and reclaimed flagstone flooring...


August 2018 - The final railings are being cleaned and prepared and we test what the railings will looks like next to the riverbank.

August 2018 - The new riverside wall now takes shape to provide a new boundary to define the space to be accessed by pilgrims.


A reflection of Ben's work reveals how patiently and ardently he has had to work to reveal the figure within the stone.


August 2018 - The background to Our Lady. Seven rays of light for Our Lady's Joy and seven for her Sorrows.


September 2018 - The reclaimed railings from Abergavenny, Wales are now situated and ready to be painted.


September 2018 - The reclaimed stone flooring arrives from St. Albans and the team assemble to begin to sort it and arrange it for laying. Much discourse occurs along the riverbank, sharing Plato's Allegory of the Cave.



History was made on Saturday 27th October as a large crowd gathered in arctic like conditions to celebrate the Blessing of Our Lady of Bath, Queen of Peace Statue. This Project inspired by the Young Adult Group of the Parish and was the culmination of two years work shared by a large team of willing volunteers from the Parish. The inspiration for the Garden was to create a place of light in what was a neglected and dark area of the Church Grounds.

It was a great community effort, showing just how much can be accomplished by willing hands working together. A large and inspiring statue of Mary was unveiled and blessed by Canon David. The statue was created on site by international sculptor Ben Dearnley, who worked tirelessly for thirteen hot weeks during the summer.

Following the recitation of the Rosary a short Liturgy took place including hymns led by our Contemporary Music Group. We were honoured to have the Mayor of Bath attend with his wife as well as a host of visitors with local and retired clergy. All appreciated the reception afterwards provided by the Garden Project Team led by Tom Rynkowski with special thanks to Liz Ganapathy and Zosia Mills for hosting the event.

The Garden has many beautiful features, a variety of flowers in the Marian tradition, stone paving provided by parishioners of the United Reform Church, St Albans, as well as reclaimed traditional fencing, renovated and hand painted by the women of the Parish.

The gate will be open from 8:00am to 5:00 pm in the winter with special times for the Spring and summer to be announced. The Garden Project Team are very grateful for the generous donations, large and small that have been given to cover most of the costs to date. If you would like to make a donation use the envelopes at the back of the Church marked ‘Garden Project’.

Congratulations to all who have play a part in this new feature and thank you on behalf of Our Lady, Queen of Peace!


The booklet for the opening can be read here.

A letter from the sculptor Ben Dearnley can be read here.

The poem These Leaves are Fallen written by Monoleeto Sangar and read on the day can be read here.