Campaign volunteers in Wales donated shoes for refugee art installation

Back in the middle of August hundreds of shoes were displayed on the square in front of and up the steps to Westminster Cathedral.  Why?  To demonstrate how many Catholics around the country were speaking out in support of Pope Francis’ refugee campaign: Share the Journey.

Two of our long-standing CAFOD Campaign volunteers: John Fellows (Cardiff) and Stella Westmacott (Menevia) each donated a pair of their own shoes to be part of the art installation which saw their shoes alongside 300 shoes sourced from refugees.

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Arms wide open in welcome at Our Lady’s in Hereford

The parish of Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs in Hereford held their Share the Journey walk after early Mass on Sunday 9 September.

At the end of Mass, CAFOD’s Share the journey presentation was shown to the congregation and the silence in church was palpable and powerful as myths were debunked and the reality of the journeys some of our brothers and sisters are forced to make were starkly laid bare.

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Sharing the journey with refugees in Brecon

On a lovely sunny afternoon in the middle of August, parishioners from St Michael’s parish in Brecon, were joined in a Share the Journey walk by a number of refugees linked to Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees which was formed in 2015.

The group then joined the national City of Sanctuary movement: which is comprised of over 60 local groups which are committed to developing a “culture of welcome and inclusion” for people seeking sanctuary in the United Kingdom.

Father Jimmy Pulickakunnel, parish priest at St Michael’s led the group in prayer at the start of the walk.   Local CAFOD volunteer, Jean Ruston was the main organiser of the event and had chosen an accessible, peaceful walk through the beautiful and historic town of Brecon and along the banks of the River Honddu which joins the River Usk in the centre of town.

What is the Share the Journey campaign? #sharejourney

The Share the Journey campaign has at its heart the vision of a united global family.  The focus is on our joint journey as people on the move in departure, transit and host communities.

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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

 

 

Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns launches Share the Journey campaign in Menevia

Earlier this month, Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns of the Diocese of Menevia added his support to Pope Francis’ call for the need to build relationships between migrants, refugees and local communities.

Bishop Tom endorsed Share the Journey, the global campaign launched by the Holy Father in September last year, as he joined other world leaders and bishops in making the “Reach Out” gesture of welcome – which is at the heart of the campaign – stretching his arms out wide.

“Hope is what drives the hearts of those who depart… it is also what drives the hearts of those who welcome: the desire to meet each other, get to know each other, to dialogue.”  Pope Francis.

 

The Share the Journey campaign is being supported by more than 200 Catholic organisations around the world.  CAFOD and Caritas Social Action in England and Wales (CSAN) and Caritas sisters agencies in over 40 countries.

The campaign is calling on all governments, and us, as individuals, to play our part in welcoming and protecting people who are forced to flee their own homes because of persecution, poverty and emergencies.

Inspired by Pope Francis’ special concern for people on the move, we are asking the people of England and Wales to step up and make their voices heard as world leaders draw up ambitious new UN agreements (compacts) on migration and refugees in September and December of this year.    There are many resources available to support you, but one of the easiest ways to add your voice is by signing the online petition.

 “If we bond with refugees and migrants, we will break down the barriers with which some are trying to separate us. The campaign reaches out to recognise, restore and share our common humanity.”   Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis

To support the campaign we are attempting to walk 24,900 miles – the distance around the whole world.  We are hoping that many parishes across the Menevia diocese will get involved in this act of solidarity, to Share the Journey with our global neighbours fleeing their homes.

Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns with Fr Mansel Usher at The Mumbles

Every step you take, together with others from across the country, will send a message to world leaders that we want them to step up too; to act with courage and compassion.

To learn more about the Catholic church’s response to the refugee crisis, CAFOD has produced a useful factsheet.  And here are some frequently asked questions about the refugee crisis.

If you want to get involved, you can download a copy of the Share the Journey organiser’s guide to get all the information you need.   And there are free campaign (cards) which you can order or please get in touch with us and we can support you as much as possible.

One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves as individuals, communities and countries at this time of mass movements of people and global doubt is ‘Do I allow fear to prevail in my heart, or do I allow hope to reign?’

“Through ‘Share the Journey’ we hope to dispel fear and understand why so many people are leaving their homes at this time in history.  We also want to inspire communities to build relationships with refugees and migrants.  We want to shine a light and lead the way.  Migration is a very old story but our campaign aims to help communities see it with new eyes and an open heart.” Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila

You may want to know more about the position of the Catholic Church in England  and Wales on the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe?

I hope this helps: CAFOD’s mandate from the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is to support poor communities overseas.  CSAN (the Catholic Social Action Network) is the social action arm of the Catholic Church for work in England and Wales.  Their members support refugees who have already arrived in the UK, and they do advocacy work on poverty in the UK.  Together CAFOD and CSAN form Caritas England and Wales.

Both organisations support the Share the Journey campaign.

 

CAFOD retreat – BOOK YOUR PLACE NOW!

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As this Year of Mercy draws to a close, we are hosting a retreat at Llantarnam Abbey on Sat 12 Nov that will explore how each of us can continue to live out Pope Francis’ call to be “witnesses of mercy” in our families, communities and in our world. Continue reading