As Lent comes to an end, Step into the Gap volunteer, Charlotte Bray, who is currently volunteering at Newman Chaplaincy, reflects on her recent trip to Cambodia and how this has inspired her Lent challenge.
When I travelled to Cambodia, as part of the Step into the Gap programme, I went with the expectation that I would meet some incredible people. I never realised that the encounters I had would have such a transformative effect on my life.
While I was in Cambodia, I had the pleasure of meeting an incredibly strong and resilient woman called Suong, she taught me a profound lesson that has changed the way I view the world.
CAFOD volunteer, Leah Fox, 19, from Newcastle spoke to thousands of young people at Flame 2017 about her experiences of meeting refugees in Lebanon and sharing messages of hope from the UK. Here, she reflects on her experience and encourages others to act.
Tell us why you were on stage with CAFOD at the Wembley SSE Arena on Saturday 11 March.
Last year I was part of Youth Ministry Team in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, whilst I was there I became a CAFOD Ambassador with representatives from other retreat centres around the country. All around the media, we could see that there were a lot of negative things being said about refugees, and they weren’t being treated in a dignified way. We decided that the Refugee Crisis needed to be addressed so we started talking to the young people we worked with about refugees and gathering messages of hope from them.
This year, November marks the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Leah Parker-Turnock spoke to one CAFOD supporter, Judith Tooth, who was inspired by her faith to undertake a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago to stand in solidarity with refugees.
Central to Judith’s pilgrimage were those affected by the global refugee crisis. “Walking a pilgrimage can be challenging,” said Judith. “But it’s nothing compared to the perilous journeys so many refugees face. As I walked the long, hot road, I tried to imagine being on such a journey, and, worse, being separated from my four children, not knowing when, or even if, I’d see them again. It was unbearable to think about. And thousands of families are still trying to escape war, poverty and persecution, often only to be met by hostility and further hardship.”
Judith carried a special cross on her journey – the Lampedusa cross. In 2013, hundreds of refugees who were fleeing Eritrea and Somalia drowned off the coast of Lampedusa. Francesco Tuccio, a carpenter from the small Italian island, was moved to gather the driftwood from the wrecked boats and turn them into crosses. He offered the crosses to survivors as a symbol of their rescue and a sign of hope.
The cross was also a powerful symbol for Judith throughout her pilgrimage: “I fixed the 30cm cross to my backpack along with my scallop shell – the symbol of the pilgrim route. Fellow pilgrims were profoundly moved when I explained to them that the carpenter had offered the crosses he’d made to survivors as a symbol of their rescue and a sign of hope, and that I was carrying one of those crosses to continue that message of hope.
Three CAFOD volunteers from the Northampton diocese share their experience of preparing for Harvest Fast Day.
Mike Coote from St Teresa’s, Beaconsfield said:
Every year when my Fast Day pack arrives and the autumn leaves start to turn brown, I know it is time to start planning Harvest Fast Day. It is usually a meal where we share homemade soup and bread and people in the congregation make donations to CAFOD.
I am always really excited when my Fast Day pack arrives, I make sure that I put it at the back of the parish so that everyone can read about CAFOD when they leave and over the past few years, the simple poster has grown to a display which is visible from most places in the church. This way people can learn all about the fast day in more detail and they can really see who the appeal helps.