Last Sunday, 3rd September parishioners throughout the Havant and Portsmouth Pastoral Areas embarked on a special Year of Mercy pilgrimage in solidarity with refugees on from SS Thomas of Canterbury & Thomas More in Emsworth all the way to Portsmouth Cathedral. Organiser and CAFOD volunteer, Maureen Thompson, sent us this full report below:
Emsworth – Sharing the Pope’s Intentions
“On the morning we thought the enthusiasts would start at Ss Thomas in Emsworth but when I arrived Nigel and his friend Benedict from the Isle of Wight had already walked 5 miles from Rowlands Castle! Still all good practise for Nigel who is about to embark on a solo pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. We were joined by 9 other Emsworth parishioners and gathered together around the Year of Mercy Banner and our small Lampedusa Cross. We then said the prayers for the Pope’s intentions for September which focussed on the common good where all people have the courage to evangelise. It was perfect for our walk of witness.
Havant – Reflection: forced out by war
“This first group arrived in plenty of time at St Joseph’s in Havant where we were met by 11 more people including representatives from Hayling Island, Waterlooville, and Horndean parishes. We were also joined by Faith Ponsonby, Mayor of Havant, who really inspired us with all the many good works she is trying to achieve this year. Faith gamely donned the CAFOD sash and lead our prayers focusing on those forced from their homes because of war. We then looked at the world map and thought about the top 10 countries where people are having to leave their homes right now. Our thanks go to the Mayor for praying and walking a short distance with us.
Bedhampton – Reflection: forced out by poverty and climate change
“Our next stopping station was St Thomas Anglican church where the Rector Rev David Proud and the Verger Alec Matthews welcomed us at the door. Inside already were our next two pilgrims joining at this point. Rev David was happy to lead us for this prayer station where we learned about Seline Netoi who lives on the Carteret islands in the South Pacific, where rising sea levels mean her whole community must leave before the islands are completely under water. We thought it was good news that USA and China have ratified the Paris agreement but there’s a lot more work to do to care for the earth. Thanks to David and Alec for their lovely welcome.
Eastern Road Roundabout – Reflection: forced out by persecution
“It was a long windy walk with our cross and banner leading the way to our next station but we chatted to the people we passed and told them about our commitment to pray for refugees and peace. A lovely surprise as well as another pilgrim Father Tom Grufferty, Parish Priest of St Joseph’s Christ church was there to meet us. Under the Portsmouth sign we held up our passports possession we take for granted but it gives us they right to live in safety and prayed for those forced out of their homes by persecution. Thank you to Father Tom for stopping on his way through.
Hilsea Lido – Reflection: the journey undertaken
“Finally, we stopped for lunch, a well needed rest as we ate a few more friends arrived including long time CAFOD supporter Paula Medd with two pilgrims from St Colman’s in Cosham. This was a good time to think about refugee’s journey, we had definitely been looking forward to rest and food and were only out for the day. Thanks for support from friends at St Colman’s justice awareness group who’s evenings on the Refugee Crisis encouraged me to do this walk.
Mountbatten Centre – Reflection: lost families
“For this leg we followed the ancient pilgrim’s way from Winchester to San Malo –it gave us that little sense of history of pilgrim journeys through the ages. Our last two walking pilgrims joined us here and we shared our family pictures. By now we all knew something any way about each other’s families. Our prayers asked us to imagine how we would feel if we had lost or been separated from our families – heart breaking!
Shamshaw Park – Reflection: Welcome and rejection
“This our last stop before the Cathedral. We got out all the pictures of the individuals and families we had read about on the journey and people carried them to our journey’s end where we were looking forward to a welcome and a hot drink. But this made us think about our fellow brothers and sisters making journeys because of persecution, war, drought or floods. Will they find a welcome when they finish their journeys?
Portsmouth Cathedral – Reflection: the Cross of Compassion
“We arrived 5 minutes before the rain started. Our parish priest Father Leslie Adams and the lovely ladies from the Discovery Centre were all there to greet us with tea and plates of cakes. We felt very welcome. For our final station we placed our small Lampedusa cross with the cross at the Cathedral with all the pictures, the map, the loaf of bread, passports, and photos of our families in front of the cross. Father Leslie led our prayers. Nigel explained about the Lampedusa Cross. 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. A 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.
“We said together:
Jesus, bringer of mercy and justice… Group: Have mercy on us.
Jesus, protector of the migrant…
Jesus, voice against violence…
Jesus, courage for the lowly…
Jesus, closest to the poor…
Jesus, source of light and hope
“Thank you to Father Leslie for welcoming us and Lucy and Anna for our tea party.
“One final photo was taken with Father Leslie and Nel and Mike who joined us for our final prayers together we all entered the Holy Door of Mercy and we said the Creed together. Then we sat quietly and waited for Mass giving us plenty of time to complete our CAFOD prayer cards. Thank to Father Dominic Golding and the musicians a beautiful Mass to end our journey.
“It was a really good day. Special thanks to Jim and Cathy Graham for planning and checking the route, to John Tweddell for taking so many photos and for all the pilgrims for travelling with us and kind donations for Nigel’s sponsored walk. We added £145 to his total. We hope to hear more about his journey later in September.”
Thank you so much for sending this Maureen. It sounds wonderful! Beautiful photos too!