CAFOD volunteer Kris Pears from Coventry went on a pilgrimage to Walsingham and spoke to fellow pilgrims about the Lampedusa cross
“Hello my name is Kris and I am a CAFOD volunteer”, an opening line that I have used many times in the past, but this time it was very different.
Pentecost Sunday 2016 was the third and final day of the weekend pilgrimage to Walsingham by my parish, St Thomas More’s. The day before I had been privileged to serve Mass for Bishop Robert Byrne at the climax of the Archdiocese of Birmingham’s Diocesan day pilgrimage to the shrine. This morning the crowds had gone and as we left Elmham house to walk the pilgrims’ mile down to the shrine.
A few minutes before the group of 50 of us set out I had briefly explained to the Coventry group and our fellow pilgrims from Liverpool about the Lampedusa cross. Now I carried it at the font of our group as we walked the path between the fields from the village.
Learn about CAFOD’s Lampedusa cross
As we walked we prayed the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary and followed it by singing Ave Maria. I looked at the ploughed fields on both sides of the path with new crops just beginning to send their green shoots through and I heard the words “our daily bread” – not just yet, I thought, but in a few months’ time.
It is highly unlikely that a blazing hot summer will fry the crops in these East Anglian fields in which they are growing, almost as unlikely (but not impossible) that torrential rain will wash them out of the ground: here in Britain we are mostly lucky with the weather, but last winter’s storms tell us that we are not immune!
As I held the rough cross, made from two pieces of wood from the boat shipwrecked off the shore of Lampedusa by Francesco Tuccio, (the island’s carpenter), I thought about the 311 Eritrean and Somalian refugees who lost their lives in that shipwreck. They had been forced to flee their homes because of famine and war. Only in desperation did they travel to Europe and on its shores they perished.
There is hope for the 155 refugees whose lives were saved by the island community – but only if our government and other governments across Europe respond positively.
Donate to CAFOD’s Refugee Crisis Appeal
As I stood at the pulpit at the closing of our 90-minute Pentecost Mass, people still listened intently as I held the cross, told them about being part of CAFOD’s delegation to Paris last December, and how we need to pray for those refugee survivors and the many tens of thousands of other refugees so that God’s love may be shown to them by the support and actions of people like us. That way, hope may continue.