War, persecution, natural disasters and poverty force millions of people from their homes.
Most come from poor countries and seek safety in other poor countries nearby.
Dispelling myths about refugees and migrants is something we can all help with.
And this was how parishioners from St Frances of Rome church in the beautiful market town of Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire responded to Pope Francis’ call to welcome refugees and migrants with open arms.
Altar servers, twin brothers, Tom & Gerry
The liveSimply group in the parish organised a Share the Journey walk around the buggy route in the town, to coincide with the end of Refugee Week.
Before setting off, parish priest, Father Nicholas James, blessed the entire congregation as well as the group of walkers.
At the end of their journey, the group had totted up 40 miles which has been added to CAFOD’s online totaliser for Share the Journey.
It is a shocking fact that at the end of last year, 68.5 million people were displaced around the world due to persecution, conflict or violence.
Few us can even imagine being at home and suddenly have to escape with our family and leave absolutely everything we own behind.
We can try to imagine setting off on a long journey to find a new home. Not knowing how long we will be walking, when we will next eat or where we can rest.
Alone and afraid, there is now doubt that we would welcome someone to reach and talk to us, to share the journey with us.
But this was just like Dilda’s journey. She fled from Myanmar to escape violence in her village.
She says: “We didn’t bring a thing. We just grabbed the children and ran.”
Dilda left everything behind. Her home, her possessions, everything – for a temporary shelter on the side of the road.
Her children are scarred by what they have seen.
We cannot cross by on the other side while our neighbours are struggling.
The church has been at the forefront of reaching out to refugees and migrants but so far our world leaders are not meeting the challenge.
Alongside Catholics around the world, we are asking them to step up.
Parishes, schools around the country can help to send a powerful message to world leader who are drawing up new global agreements at the UN in September and December this year.
How? By sharing the journey. By joining us on a walk. Not just any walk, but a walk around the world.
The target was 24,900 miles – the distance around the whole world.
But we’ve achieved that already!!
We are walking around the world a second time…
CAFOD will use the #sharethejourney walks and card signings in parishes and schools to demonstrate our solidarity with people on the move to our Prime Minister, Theresa May, to our local MPs and the government.
We hope to influence the UN so that the new agreements will respect human dignity; protect the vulnerable; support host countries; keep families together and tacked the reasons why people migrate.
Please consider signing the online petition today to ask the UN to agree compassionate agreements which respect human dignity of all people.
If you would like to know more about organising a walk in your parish or school, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and we’d be delighted to support you. You can order action cards here.
Loving God, You walk with those searching for a better life. May we work together to share the journey and offer everyone a loving welcome. Amen.