Six Churches across the Weybridge Deanery joined a chain of walkers last weekend in solidarity with people on the move.
On Saturday morning Fr Rob Esdaile and CAFOD volunteer, Cathie Fernando set off with a group of people and walked to St Erconwald’s on Walton-on Thames. The group carried a Lampedusa Cross, a great symbol of hope and solidarity with refugees.
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Thames Ditton set off on their Share the Journey walk.
They were warmly welcomed by St Erconwald’s with Fairtrade chocolate treats and bananas with a message.
Going bananas for Share the Journey
On Sunday the group from St Erconwald’s carried on the journey carrying the cross to Christ the Prince of Peace in Weybridge who then joined the walk and carried on to St Anne’s in Chertsey. Full points to all those who decided to walk in solidarity and forego the pleasures of watching England play football!
St Anne’s Parish led by Fr Michael and CAFOD volunteer, Libia, gave a lovely welcome in Chertsey and they all then continued the walk onwards. This was a long stage of the walk, in the warm summer sun but spirits remained high in the near 30-strong group, especially as they were welcomed to the final destination – the Parish of St Cuthbert providing the welcome at St John of Rochester in Egham Hythe.
Some members of the St Anne’s Parish walkers from Chertsey
The total length of the walk was over 13 miles with over 60 people involved. Together the walk added 248 miles to our Share the Journey mileage.
The Share the Journey campaign, launched by Pope Francis last year, aims to promote greater understanding of refugees and migrants and to call on governments to protect those forced to flee their homes due to poverty or war. It is being championed by international Catholic charities around the world. CAFOD asked supporters to walk 24,900 miles – the distance around the world – by September in solidarity with refugees and migrants. Already our supporters have nearly doubled that amount!
Cathie Fernando, Parish Volunteer from Thames Ditton, said:
‘What struck me most during the walk was that after walking a few miles I was tired, and glad to receive refreshments, a drive home, a cool shower and a comfortable sofa for a few hours. The refugees and asylum seekers are walking hundreds of miles, often carrying what possessions they can.
‘Children, elderly and handicapped people are struggling. They don’t know how far or where they are going to end up and if they will receive a welcome. They often risk severely dangerous crossings over water, across deserts with little water and the possibility of being thrown out of the lorries to lessen the load, and the risk of suffocation in the container vehicles.
‘Sharing the Journey this weekend has no comparison to those we have been thinking about, but it has given more thought and compassion to the people who are still not finding a home.’
Mary Lee, Parish Volunteer in Christ the Prince of Peace Church in Weybridge said:
‘It was a wonderful atmosphere and walking with people from different parishes was great. We prayed for refugees on the walk and had a lovely welcome at the end of the walk by the Parish of St Cuthbert in Egham. The fact that different churches came together for a good cause like this is superb. We may look to do it again next year.’
Libia McRobb, Parish Volunteer in Chertsey and Area Coordinator for the Weybridge Deanery shared how she came up with the idea of the walk:
‘In 2012 when the Olympic games were hosted in the UK, the torch passed through the royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. I and my two children plus my new born baby daughter came to see the famous torch. Much later when I heard about Pope Francis new campaign: ‘Share the Journey” I suddenly was struck and I had an urgent feeling in my heart that this was an opportunity to work together as a Deanery.
‘I then was brought back to that day I saw the Olympic torch being passed on, from one person to another person, like a trophy and I thought whilst I would not run to carry the Olympic torch I would run in solidarity with refugees. I wondered what could be my Trophy to carry? And then I thought: ‘The Lampedusa Cross”. We will walk from parish to parish carrying the Lampedusa cross and pass it on and the cross will be our most precious trophy!’
The walkers and parishes involved have also called on our Prime Minister to ensure that the UK takes a lead during the United Nations General Assembly in New York to reach two new agreements on protecting refugees and migrants.
Martin from CAFOD A&B said
‘A massive thank you to all the walkers – for their dedication, their efforts and their enthusiasm. A special thanks go to the volunteers that pulled this walk together – the evening meetings, the awareness raising, the motivating of their fellow parishioners and so much more. They came together and showed that protecting refugees and migrants is an important issue for us and our churches.’
Find out how you can join the campaign at cafod.org.uk/sharethejourney Do get in touch if you’d like any help in organising a walk which could be something large like this one, or something much simpler.
Do see our Upcoming Events page for information about the walks that are currently planned.