Well, at least I escaped most of the rain as I was walking this weekend. Saturday was showery and cold, but nothing like Sunday’s downpour.
Saturday morning saw me start at Hatton, joined by representatives from the Justice and Peace group at St Peter’s, Leamington Spa and one from St Thomas More in Coventry.
We walked and talked, at times entering into quite deep discussions. Then two of my fellow walkers started talking to a couple coming the other way. It turned out that they were also walking the entire length of the Grand Union canal, but starting at London and ending at Birmingham.
Knowing that I still had two weeks of walking ahead, I wondered how long it had taken them so far. The answer was a little surprising: fifteen years. They had been talking the walk slightly more gradually than I was, each year travelling a bit further along the route.
Various people from the group joined and left at different points, but with me throughout was Jim Murphy. Jim was my host, chaffeur and organiser during my time in Leamington. He and his wife Marie welcomed me as part of the family and I’d like to thank them for everything they did to make my stay so pleasant.
I was also joined by Anna Godwin, the widow of Mike Godwin who was a friend and incredibly effective CAFOD diocesan speaker. It was a bittersweet meeting, the first since Mike’s death, but I was so pleased that she was able to take part in the walk.
The group had organised an amazing weekend and was clearly well prepared for my arrival and for promoting Thirst for change at every opportunity. Although I finished walking on Saturday afternoon, I certainly wasn’t taking it easy for the rest of the weekend.
On Saturday night I spoke at the Mass of St Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Warwick, and at the second Mass on Sunday at St Charles Borromeo at Hampton-on-the-Hill. At this parish, the priest mentioned Thirst for change as part of his sermon, citing the campaign as a “splendid example of Christian values”.
At Peter’s, I spoke at the children’s Mass, accompanied at times by enthusiastic percussion from children waiting to process out. Volunteers from the Justice and Peace group stood in for me at the other Masses alongside the Thirst for change display which they had set up in the church porch. There was a really happy community atmosphere throughout the day.
As I left for the next day of walking, Marie Murphy was taking the Thirst for change exhibition from the church to the school where she is headteacher. Without me asking, she had suggested taking cards for parents to sign as they pick up and drop off their children.
So, the grand total for the weekend: four parishes represented, eight miles walked and 402 campaign actions collected.