Kenneth tells his SCIAF story
Kenneth Sadler has supported us as a parish contact at St Mary's Cathedral in Aberdeen for 13 years. He took some time to tell us about his role, his motivations, and what being involved in our work means to him.
Stepping out in faith
I was not brought up as a Catholic, but I was formally received into the Catholic Church at Easter in 2005. Very soon afterwards, I started to support SCIAF. After attending an event at which SCIAF's Chief Executive was present, I was asked if I could take on the role of Parish Contact for St Mary's Cathedral. I thought it would be good to get involved and was happy to accept the offer, even if I was far from certain what it woud entail and recognised that I had much to learn.
Little did I know this was the beginning of a journey that has, so far, lasted 13 years.
Wee Box, Big Inspiration
For many people, SCIAF is strongly associated with the Lenten WEE BOX, BIG CHANGE appeal. Although this is a busy time for Parish Contacts, every year I look forward to the opportunity to give a talk at Mass, describing the conditions faced by people living in poverty around the world, and thanking parishioners for their prayers and support. It is a privilege to bring to life inspiring figures like David and Maté of Zambia, the Lang family of Cambodia and Lydia, the remarkable single mother from Uganda whose story was told this year.
One Lenten WEE BOX story that I found especially moving and powerful was the tale of Claude from Burundi, who featured on the 2013 WEE BOX. A former child soldier who, with SCIAF’s help, became a peacebuilder in his community, able to talk to and forgive the man who had killed his father. Claude went on to create a new life with his wife and daughter as a rice farmer in a co-operative. His heroic example is astonishing and has stayed with me ever since.
Serving God by serving others
The patron saints of SCIAF are Margaret of Scotland and Oscar Romero. These are inspiring champions of Christian love in action, with Margaret symbolising SCIAF’s deep Scottish roots and works of charity and Romero a shining, modern example of somebody committed to opposing oppression and poverty while working tirelessly for social justice, even to the cost of his own life. These are, to me, the values that SCIAF embodies.
SCIAF does not arrogantly enter challenging situations in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, and start telling people how they should organise their lives. By working with local partners on the ground, SCIAF works tirelessly to challenge the policies and structures that keep people in poverty and unable to live their lives with dignity. I have always been deeply struck by this comprehensive approach, emphasising both charity and justice. It strongly resonates with me.
It is an honour to be part of the SCIAF family and to represent SCIAF in my parish community. I am glad to be a SCIAF volunteer.
If you’re thinking about stepping forward to do more for SCIAF, I recommend you do so. My years as the Cathedral’s Parish Contact have been immensely rewarding and satisfying.