Sporting “Share the Journey” badges and carrying the Lampedusa Cross, 91 parishioners from Corpus Christi Oxford and Our Lady of Lourdes Wheatley spent a sunny Sunday afternoon contributing 249 miles, one hundredth of the distance around the globe (24,900miles), to the CAFOD Share the Journey totaliser, now on its fourth journey around the world.
The Parish Pilgrimage was part of the Parish’s commitment to respond to Pope Francis’s invitation in Laudato Si‘ to “work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us” by reflecting on our lives in order to live simply, sustainably with creation, and in solidarity with people in poverty. The Parish is working towards CAFOD’s Live Simply Award.
On Sunday, the focus was on expressing solidarity with migrants and refugees. Parish Priest, Fr Mervyn Tower, celebrated all Masses at the weekend with the Lampedusa Cross on the altar, with which he blessed the congregations at the end of Mass – and his sermon reflected the scriptural imperative of supporting people on the move. In the afternoon, parishioners gathered in nearby Bury Knowle Park where they collected their Share the Journey badges and signed the petition to the Prime Minister urging her to work with other world leaders to deliver on the global compacts on migration and refugees, respecting human dignity, protecting the vulnerable, and enabling families to keep together by supporting host countries and tackling the reasons why people migrate. The journey began with the a prayer from the CAFOD Share the journey cards.
Some people walked one circuit of the park whilst others walked up to six – each one according to what their own health and fitness allowed them: a reminder of the burden faced by migrants, who often have to assist the vulnerable members of their families and communities to walk well beyond their natural strength and capabilities.
It was not a race – and parishioners quickly spread out around the perimeter path, passing the Lampedusa Cross from one group to another. Half way round the park, there was a quiet prayer station for people to reflect on some of the migrants’ stories, five of which were mounted on the Park fence for all to see. In fact, many visitors to the park stopped by to read the stories, including a father who movingly pointed out to his young son how fortunate they were not to be forced to flee their comfortable home in Oxford. A powerful witness to the wider community, indeed!
At the end of the afternoon, parishioners gathered in a shady area to read aloud the five migrant stories and pray together before Fr Mervyn blessed the pilgrims with the Lampedusa Cross. It was an afternoon that helped parishioners within the church community bond together around a simple act of solidarity with those facing hardship.
Thank you Corpus Christi Oxford and Our Lady of Lourdes Wheatley for walking in solidarity and sending a powerful message to world leaders they too need to step up and protect the rights of people on the move.