PRIESTS and parishioners are celebrating after being awarded for living simply and in solidarity with the poor.

Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Patrick’s Church in Blackhorse Road, Walthamstow, received a Live Simply award from the Society of African Missions (SMA) after implementing changes to the way it operates. The programme awards churches for being environmentally friendly and reaching out to disadvantaged groups.

Fr Angelo Lafferty and Fr Kevin Conway and a team of volunteers planted a vegetable garden in the church grounds and banned the use of disposable cutlery from the church’s kitchen.

The team used only Fair Trade products at tea parties and encouraged parishioners to switch to eco-detergents in their homes.

Fr Lafferty, who is originally from Donegal in Ireland, moved to Walthamstow two months ago.

He said: “It is our duty to take care of God’s creation which is the earth. It is all around us and unfortunately we are destroying it.

“In small simple ways we can make ourselves aware of the destruction we are causing.

“The whole parish got on board and it is something that will continue now. We try to get the children involved

“In terms of the bigger sense of making a difference, I don’t think we will be around long enough to see that. Climate change is an important issue and we can make other people’s places a bit better by the way we live.”

The church hall was opened as a shelter and soup kitchen for the homeless during winter and donations of clothes, sleeping bags and spices were collected and taken to migrants living in Calais.

Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Patrick’s Church is the second parish in Brentwood Diocese to receive the Live Simply award.

Bishop Alan Williams, Bishop of Brentwood said: “both priests and people of the parish continue to be inspiring examples of the commitment to living simply, living sustainably and living in solidarity with people in poverty”.

Inspired by Pope Francis’ invitation to “work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us”, the church is raising awareness about climate change and hopes to be an example to other parishes.