Hello to all the pupils at Corpus Christi RC primary school in Portsmouth who marked the Year of Mercy this week by going on a special pilgrimage from their school to Corpus Christi Catholic Church.
Education Volunteers, Patrick and Isobel Flynn told us,
“Before the start of our pilgrimage, we gathered together in a bright sunny classroom to review ‘The Corporal Works of Mercy’ and watch the short video clip (see below). The children then discussed the plight of refugees and their own hopes and desires. We also looked at the places in the world where today’s refugees are coming from, forced out by war and persecution.
“We then processed to Corpus Christi Church. Once there, we considered what it would be like to have nothing other than the clothes in which we were dressed if we had to leave our homes or school because of the effects of severe environmental conditions, war or civil unrest.
“We talked about the importance and privilege of having a national identity and the consequences for people who have had to leave their home country and arrive in a new foreign country looking for a new life.
“We reflected on all places where people are attacked for their beliefs or their colour or their nationality and prayed that everyone will live in harmony with each other and realise that they are all God’s children.
“From there, we went on to think about the importance of bread in our lives. We thought about how we need to receive Holy Communion regularly to nourish our souls and spiritual lives in the same way as we need bread to nourish our human bodies.
“The children then prayed for everyone who is hungry around the world and for people who have had to leave their homes because of climate change.
“Finally, we looked at a photo of a refugee family (see below) and the significance of the empty chair as we paused in front of Our Lady’s Altar, our eternal Mother. The children then thought about all the families and friends who have been separated by conflict and migration and prayed that they would soon be reunited.“We then completed our pilgrimage by writing messages of hope to refugees inspired by the Lampedusa Cross (pictured below).
“On the 3rd October 2013, a boat carrying 500 refugees from Eritrea and Somalia, sank off the little island of Lampedusa between Tunisia and Sicily. Only 151 people survived. The local carpenter on Lampedusa met some of the survivors and then went and collected some of the wreckage of the boat. He made crosses for the survivors as a symbol of hope for the future.
“Inspired by this, the children were then invited to write or draw their own message of hope for refugees and take them up to the altar.
Here are some of the messages the pupils shared with us:
“I would like to send you my hope and love. Even if you have fled your home, your real home is in your heart. Stay strong and remember you are always in someone’s heart. Do not give up on your dreams because God can help you.”
“I hope that you are well and safe and that you are with your family. Remember that God is always with you and watching over you. We are praying for you.”
“When you get to the place where you want to be, I hope you will be welcome in a loving way.”
“I hope it’s not too hard for you to leave your home but, remember that Jesus is always there.”
“I am praying for you and your family. God will protect you. If you have hope, good things will happen. Always be happy, God loves you.”
“I wish you hope so that you may get to your destination safely and so that your past won’t get in the way for you to achieve your dreams. Please remember that you are remembered in our prayers to God.”
CAFOD will dedicate their messages at a special Mass at the end of the Year of Mercy, and make sure they are shared with refugees through CAFOD’s and other networks.
“We were really impressed by the response of the children. They showed real understanding of the troubles experienced by refugees and have left some beautiful messages of hope.”
Thank you so much to everyone at Corpus Christi primary for your continued support and to our great volunteers Patrick and Isobel for organising this and sending us these photos too.