Share the Journey at Kidwelly Quay

Parishioners from Holy Cross parish in Pontyberem near Carmarthen chose to make their Share the Journey walk at Kidwelly Quay which is located on the north bank of the Gwendraeth estuary.

We were guided by seasoned CAFOD campaigners, Paul and Stella Westmacott who are enlightened nature lovers and conservationists who embrace a liveSimply lifestyle.

Paul reading one of the refugee stories

And it was no surprise that the location chosen: Kidwelly Quay – is a Special Area of Conservation which attracts large numbers of birds to the sand and mud banks of the Gwendraeth River.

Wednesday 26 July was one of the most glorious Summer evenings we have enjoyed for a long time.

The temperature was still high as we set off at 6.30 pm but the wonderful, peaceful environs: the canal walk, salt marsh creeks with wildlife chirruping out of view, and a fresh-water pond all contributed to a very reflective walk surrounded on all sides by the beauty of creation in all its glory.

The setting we enjoyed was so far removed from that which many of our displaced brothers and sisters are facing around the world.  That very fact heightened the poignancy of the heart-rending stories we shared together.

Share the journey is a global campaign to promote Pope Francis’ “culture of encounter” whose goal is to increase the spaces and opportunities for migrants and local communities to meet, talk and take action.  We want to be welcoming and speak up for the rights of migrants and refugees.

There are many reasons why people migrate. War, persecution, natural disaster and poverty force millions of people from their homes. Most come from poor countries, and seek safety in poor countries nearby.

We cannot turn away. These are human beings with hopes, fears, desires and stories to share, just like each one of us.

Whatever the cause, migration has an impact on the place and the people left behind, the place of transit and the place where people eventually settle.

Pope Francis has declared this moment in time as a ‘unique opportunity’ for us to press our governments to make global commitments which place the human dignity of people on the move at their heart.

Jesus said: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

Every encounter is an experience of otherness.  It begins with recognising that our humanity is made up of different faces, stories and cultures. We carry this diversity within ourselves, while being united by the same dignity.

The violation of human dignity, a founding value of the individual, has unfortunately happened throughout the history of humankind.  It is the most serious evil and the origin of many other evils – from poverty to exclusion, from hoarding of resources to the accumulation of enormous riches in the hands of a few, from violence to wars afflicting millions of humans beings.

To create a true, deep culture of encounter we must ask ourselves above all – as human being and parish communities – how Jesus would relate to the major modern exoduses of refugees and migrants?  How would he respond to the poor people who look for refuge in our communities?

In the Gospel, we see how Jesus meets with marginalised people without any fear.  He enters into the concreteness of their lives, their anxieties and their concerns and he helps them come out of their anonymity.  They are no longer numbers, but faces and real stories.

Today we are facing major challenges, due, among other things, to the unsustainable model of development, a source of growing inequalities, precariousness and forced exoduses of millions of people from their own lands.

Many paradigms known up to today about human existence on the earth have been thrown into crisis: the availability of food, water, energy and natural resources, climate change, migration, inviolability of borders, the different interpretations of democracy, the models of family life and relationships.

Trying to face these challenges and overcome the crisis in a positive way is not simple.  These changes are not only taking place quickly but they are also taking place at the same time, all over the world, and at the same time in the whole world.

The Share the Journey campaign is a start: to walk together in diversity and unity of faiths and religions, growing in reciprocal knowledge and respect , in communion and in common commitment for a fairer and more human world.

Pope Francis outlined a way forward:

“Contemporary movements of migration represent the largest movement of individuals, if not of people, in history.  Our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.  I believe that conjugating these four verbs, in the first person singular and in the first person plural, is today a responsibility, a duty we have towards our brothers and sisters who, for various reasons, have been forced to leave their homeland: a duty of justice, of civility and of solidarity.”

Find out more about the UN agreements on Refugees and Migrants due to be adopted in September and December this year.

We all have a role to play in ensuring that the UN compacts keep human dignity at their heart.   How can you help?  Why not organise a Share the Journey walk in your parish?

If you want to chat about getting involved, please get in touch with us  or email us.

#sharethejourney

 

 

St David’s Priory in Swansea stepped up for Share the Journey

“Hope is what drives the hearts of those who depart,” said Pope Francis on 27 September last year as he opened the Caritas/CAFOD Share the Journey campaign on migration.

 

The Holy Father gave an emotional endorsement for the need to build relationships between migrants, refugees and local communities; saying:

 “It is also what drives the hearts of those who welcome; the desire to meet each other, get to know each other, to dialogue.”

Stuart reading one of the refugee stories

These are the exact sentiments which prompted parishioners, lead by long-standing volunteer, Stuart Harper, from St David’s Priory Church in the centre of Swansea to reach out and organise their own Share the Journey walk and to try to make a positive difference to everyone with experience of migration.

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Justice and Peace walk at Penarth for Share the Journey

On Wednesday, 18 July on a beautifully warm Summer’s evening, the parishes of St Mary’s in Dinas Powys and St Joseph’s in Penarth on the outskirts of Cardiff met together to `Share the Journey’; to walk in solidarity with refugees and migrants.

“Christ asks us to welcome our brother and sister migrants and refugees with arms wide open.”

Share the Journey is a global campaign launched by Pope Francis to stand up for the rights of people on the move. The campaign is about raising awareness of the perilous journeys that refugees and migrants have to make when they are forced to leave their homes due to wars, the impact of climate change on their communities or persecution.

Refugees and migrants are often among the poorest and most vulnerable people.  Most people on the move are coming from poor countries, and most seek safety in nearby poor countries or within their own country’s borders.

The communities who welcome them are often struggling to survive themselves.

Time and again, Pope Francis has returned to the idea of welcoming the stranger – in words but also in practice.

He has lambasted the “globalisation of indifference” on the island of Lampedusa where thousands of migrants landed. He chose to go there on his first visit outside Rome as Pope.

Members of the Penarth community have been very committed to working for justice and peace for many years and once again they stepped up in support of the campaign.

The group heard several powerful stories during the walk which gave us some small insight into the difficulties and choices that migrants and refugees who had come to settle in Cardiff – a City of Sanctuary – had been forced to face.

Being a City of Sanctuary means building a culture of hospitality and welcome and is part of a national movement which offers sanctuary to people fleeing violence or persecution and celebrates the contribution of asylum seekers and refugees to city life.

We reflected on how different their experiences are to our own. The stories that we heard were heart-breaking and sometimes shocking because of the levels of brutality and violence involved.

Some of the walkers knew the individuals personally and could bring us up-to-date with their current situation.

Some were volunteers at Cardiff based Space4U an organisation offering friendship and support, English classes, recreational activities, a simple hot meal, practical support and information. ship and support, Engli

The individual stories were extracts from a published book that the refugees and migrants had written themselves.

The Share the Journey campaign continues until the end of the year.  If you would like to organise a card signing in your parish, or a short walk around your parish church, please get in touch with us.  We’re here to help and support you.

Gracious god, help us each day to live simply, taking small but deliberate steps to preserve the earth’s resources.

Creator God, may the beauty and bounty of this world remind us of your overflowing love for us.

Help us to remember that you made enough for all; teach us to share freely with one another, out of love for you and  our neighbour.
Merciful God, whose son became a refugee and had no place to call his own, look with mercy on all those fleeting from danger, homelessness and hungry.

Bless those who work to bring them relief, inspire generosity in our hearts, and guide all nations towards a world where peace in built on justice and justice is guided by love.  Amen.

43 parishioners, 4 dogs and 1 MP Share the Journey/Rhannu’r Daith

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On Sunday, 15 July, 43 parishioners from St Helen’s RC parish in Caerphilly (plus 4 dogs) answered Pope Francis’s call to ShareThe Journey which calls on us all to be “welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees.”

Parish priest, Father John Kelly, welcomed the walkers and the group was blessed with good weather (32 degree heat!) as they set off from the church at 3 pm to walk around the beautiful and historic Caerphilly Castle.

Long-serving local MP for Caerphilly, Wayne David, joined the walk and added his support to the global campaign which is calling on the UK government to take a lead when the United Nations meet in September and December this year to agree new global agreements on refugees and migrants.

These agreements will set the tone for many years to come on how refugees are treated and welcomed around the world.

“Refugees are not numbers to be distributed and allocated, but persons with a name, a story, with hopes and aspirations.”

 

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Reflections from Cardiff on Share the Journey

On Midsummer’s Day, June 21, parishioners from a number of parishes in the Archdiocese joined together to take part in a Share the Journey, circular walk around Cardiff Bay, starting out from the Norweigan Church and ending at the Senedd.

Over 40 miles were added to CAFOD’s online totaliser.

The walkers reflected on the stark fact that every minute, 20 people around the world are newly displaced. Half of the world’s refugees are children and thousands take flight without the protection of parents or other family members.

Here are some of their personal reflections on the refugee crisis:

From Roswitha, a parishioner from Penarth (pictured above second from left):

Walking around Cardiff Bay on a lovely summer’s day with a small band of CAFOD supporters was our contribution to Refugee Week and to Pope Francis’ global campaign of ‘Sharing the Journey’ with refugees.

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Taking action with a Share the Journey walk of witness at St Philip Evans, Cardiff

St Philip Evans parish in Llanedeyrn is home to the Cardiff Catholic Deaf Service and the “designated parish” serving Deaf people throughout the Archdiocese of Cardiff.

The parish covers Llanedeyrn, Pentwyn and Pontprennau.

On Saturday 7 July between 2.30 and 4 pm they are organising a parish walk.

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First Share the Journey walk in Herefordshire

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.

 

Walking in solidarity in Monmouth

St Mary’s parish in the historic market town of Monmouth had organised their Share the Journey walk to coincide with the start of this year’s Refugee Week.

Parish Priest, Father Nicholas James, gave his blessing as the intrepid walkers, set off after Mass on Sunday morning (17 June).

The route chosen was the beautiful Peregrine Path, which after leaving the centre of Monmouth – the birthplace of Henry V – and crossing underneath the A40 – finds tranquillity and nature in all its glory as the path curls along the former railway line which ran adjacent to the beautiful River Wye – known for its salmon-rich waters – towards Symonds Yat in the Wye Valley.

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Menevia schools learn about Zimbabwe

St Joseph’s in Port Talbot

Our team of Education volunteers enjoyed a busy Lent and were all out and about visiting some of our Catholic schools in the diocese of Menevia and the Archdiocese of Cardiff.

We are so grateful for their experience, expertise and commitment to helping children to learn more about global issues of injustice and CAFOD’s work in over 44 countries around the world.

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