Reflecting on the Lost Family Portraits
Our Advent Service reflects on the theme of journeys . The readings explore the journey of the people of Israel in Exodus, the journey of Aza a mother who fled from Syria to Greece with her nine-month old son and the call of John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Lord. During the service there was an opportunity to think about our own experiences of journey, who had supported us through difficult times in our lives and how we welcome the people we met on the way. We also prayed for those who had to flee from their homes because of war and violence, and those who are looking for a safe place and a friendly welcome.
Lost Family Portraits
At the service in my church I used the Lost Family Portraits as a focal point . These photos are in an exhibition in Parliament this week alongside messages of hope for refugees written by CAFOD supporters. The photos tell the stories of families living in the refugee camp in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon and the empty chairs represent missing family members who been lost during the conflict.
Inspired by Pope Francis’ special concern for migrants and refugees, we invite you to join the Share the Journey campaign. Alongside Catholics worldwide, we call on governments to agree on two global ‘compacts’ which place the human dignity of people on the move at their heart. Please sign the petition to the Prime minister here.
Please join with us in saying the closing prayer of the service.
Come Lord Jesus come and let your light shine though us so that through our action we may be salt for the earth, a light in people’s sight and that we might reach out to you in one another especially those in need.
We pray for refugees and migrants.
Many thanks to Sarah Croft from the Campaigns team for leading the CAFOD retreat Journey to Justice on Saturday. It was great to have a day away from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives to reflect on the life of Blessed Oscar Romero and his own personal journey of transformation. The beautiful retreat house at St Cuthman’s was an ideal venue with it’s peaceful chapel which overlooked the gardens, and the lovely lake and grounds.
Time to discuss and reflect
In the morning we focused on Blessed Oscar Romero’s life and how he changed from a studious quiet priest to an archbishop who spoke out for the poor and was subsequently martyred.
In the afternoon we looked at Human Rights Defenders who are working in many countries around the world speaking out for the poor and seeking justice and fairness for all people. For example Javier Jahncke is a CAFOD partner who has spoken out against mining developments in Peru. These developments risk affecting biodiversity and water quality, and can have a devastating impact on the lives and health of the poor.
We then looked at our own journeys and how we need to be be continually converted in response to new and evolving challenges . In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis says that we all need to be converted, to have a change of heart, in response to the damage being done to our world. Our world today faces the same issues of greed and violence that Romero faced so we have a choice to respond in fear or in hope, to turn away or towards. Let us ask for Romero’s courage, his fidelity and his humility so that we can stand alongside the powerless and be a voice for the voiceless.
Here are some ways we can do this:- Become an MP Correspondent , sign up to campaigns updates, work for the livesimply award in our parishes, and become a campaigns volunteer.
Margaret Chaplin receiving her medal.
Congratulations to Margaret Chaplin from St Joseph’s Parish, Reading for receiving a diocesan medal for representing CAFOD in her parish for 27 years . During this time she has supported many CAFOD projects and encouraged her parish to raise an amazing £100,000 . She signed the parish up to Connect2 Ethiopia in 2010 after supporting the focus Africa project.
Connect 2 Ethiopia
The parish have been supporting the community in Sebeya in the north of Ethiopia. The community have recently experienced the worst droughts in fifty years because of the failure of two rainy seasons which took them by surprise.
Bairagabr Gidey, a farmer sent this message to the Connect 2 parishes ” I would like to thank the Catholic church for all they have done. We are thankful for the seeds, the cash for work programmes, the water point and the irrigation channels. The support continues to save the lives of the people who are the most in need.”
Many, many thanks to Margaret for her dedicated support of CAFOD over the years and for all that she has done to help her brothers and sisters overseas lift themselves out of poverty.
Interested in being a CAFOD volunteer in your parish?