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.

Continue reading

Upcoming Share the Journey walks around the Archdiocese of Cardiff

We are delighted with the response to the Share the Journey campaign from the parishes around the Archdiocese.

The campaign has gathered enough momentum to have already reached its initial target of walking around the world: 24,900 miles.  We are hoping that this will get the attention of world leaders… please consider lobbying your MP.

We have a very useful and powerful scheme for MP Correspondents – people around the country who undertake to write to their local MP – a couple of times a year – to try to influence them to act on behalf of the world’s poorest people. Will you join us?

So now we are embarked on a SECOND walk around the world!

Since writing this we have already walked three times around the world in solidarity with our brothers and sisters.  We are now trying to make it a fourth time….

Please continue to respond to Pope Francis’ call for us all to to act in solidarity with refugees and migrants.

And getting involved in the Share the Journey campaign is just one way in which we can all respond.

So please sign up to add your voice to this important campaign which is lobbying the UK government to play a leading role when the United Nations agree new global agreements on the rights of refugees and migrants in September this year.

We are praying, walking, signing cards and lobbying our MPs to ask that these agreements are compassionate, respectful of human dignity and keep families together.

“God overturns every human preconception and prejudice which prevent us from grasping reality.” Pope Francis

So it’s an enormous thank you to the parishes who have already taken part by organising petition card signings or Share the Journey parish walks.

It’s easy to sign the petition online.

And there’s plenty of time for your parish and/or parish groups such as a Justice & Peace group, UCM, CWL or SVP, Catenians, etc to get involved….

Here is a list of upcoming parish walks which anyone is welcome to join.  Why not invite a friend along too?  The list will be updated with every new walk that is added and please don’t forget to let us know how you are getting involved.

Sunday 15 July – St Helen’s RC Church, Nantgarw Road, Caerphilly CF83 3FB.  Leaving St Helen’s church at 2.30 pm to walk around Caerphilly Castle.

Wednesday 18 July – St Mary’s RC Church, Edith Road, Dinas Powys, Cardiff CF64 4AD. Leaving the church at 6.30 pm.

Saturday 21 July – St David’s Priory Church, St David’s Place, Swansea SA1 3NG.  Meet at the Beaufort Arms, Kittle at 9.45 am for a prompt 10.00 am departure.  This is a social walk around the Gower of 11 miles but with an option to complete one section of 5.5 miles (phone Ben on 07967 077002 for details).  Gower terrain, walking shoes, trainers are fine as long as the good weather persists.  Please bring snacks, plenty to drink and a packed lunch which we will share at the viewpoint of Penmaen.  Finish back at the Beaufort arms at around 4.30 pm.

Thursday 26 July – Holy Cross, Heol y Bryn, Pontyberem, Carmarthenshire SA15 5AG.  Walk at 6.30 pm along Kidwelly Quay. About 3 mile walk. Meet at Grid Reference: SN398064, the main car park at Kidwelly Quay.

Saturday 11 August – Holy Name, Fishguard and St Michael’s in St David’s – Start from Caerfai Bay car park postcode SA62 6QS at 3 pm.  Walking 2 miles to St Non’s Retreat Centre where the Nuns have kindly offered to provide us with a cuppa! Then back to the car park at Caerfai  Bay.

Sunday 19 August – St Michael’s Church in Brecon LD3 9AB. Meet at the church to start at 3 pm.  Accessible walk.

Sunday 9 September – Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs Church, 101 Belmont Road, Hereford HR2 7JR.  Walking around Our Lady’s RC Primary School field, immediately after the 9.30 am Mass.

Friday 21 September – Our Lady & St Michael RC Church, 10, Pen-y-Pound, Abergavenny, NP7 5UD. Time to be confirmed.

You can find out more about CAFOD’s work with refugees here.

 

We want to say a big THANK YOU to all our volunteers

Sarah O’Kane (left) with Sue Philippart

It’s volunteers week (1-7 June) and we want to say publicly how enormously grateful we are for all that YOU, our volunteers, do in our parishes and schools.  Without your prayers, support and commitment to CAFOD we could never achieve as much as we do.  You are invaluable! THANK YOU!

This week is an ideal opportunity to ask the question: “What is it that motivates you to volunteer for CAFOD?”

One of our wonderful volunteers is Sarah O’Kane who lives in Swansea.  Sarah is an invaluable part of our Education volunteer team covering the Menevia diocese.  She is also a parish volunteer at Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Mumbles. 

Sarah gave us her response:

 “I’m motivated by trying to act as Jesus would towards others.   I like fundraising for CAFOD because as an Agency it helps to make the world a fairer place.  I feel a sense of solidarity with those combatting enormous difficulties. 

 CAFOD helps people to help themselves e.g. setting up a struggling farmer with enough fish and tools to build a pond and start a fish farm.

I like the fact that CAFOD projects are sustainable because of the way they work with local partners who have the knowledge needed in setting up and maintaining a new venture. 

I like the way CAFOD works with people regardless of their beliefs. Continue reading

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.

 

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.

Continue reading

Swansea parishioners Lenten fundraiser helps fight hunger across the world

Gemma Salter (far left) with parishioners from Our Lady, Star of the Sea

Swansea parishioners have hosted a ‘family fast day’ and welcomed back a Swansea woman who spoke about her time visiting communities in Zimbabwe who will be helped by this year’s CAFOD Lent fundraising campaign.

Last Friday, parishioners from Our Lady Star of the Sea in Swansea hosted a Family Fast day – a day where communities enjoy a simple meal and donate the money saved to charity- and welcomed back Gemma Salter, a local woman who now works for the international aid agency, CAFOD.

During the event, they heard Gemma speak about her experiences visiting Zimbabwe and enjoyed a simple meal to fundraise for the charity.

Gemma said: “I never pass up the chance to visit my home town! So I was delighted to be invited to speak in Swansea. But more than that, it was a chance to share some of the incredible stories I heard on my trip to Zimbabwe.”

Sue Philippart, Gemma Salter, Fr Mansel Usher and Sarah O’Kane

The community’s efforts will help fund agricultural training, education and clean water projects for communities living in poverty. And, in an added boost, all donations to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal, up to £5 million, will be doubled by the UK government up until 12 May. Continue reading

Remembering in November