Ged Edwards from CAFOD Liverpool went recently to the Isle of Man and writes about some of his experiences there in his work for CAFOD.
Pope Francis has asked us during the Year of Mercy to Welcome the Stranger. The Lampedusa Cross is having a big impact on parishes and schools wanting to understand the lives of people fleeing war, persecution and the impacts of climate change.
The Cross was blessed by Archbishop McMahon, and it has since visited parishes and schools across the Archdiocese. Here is an update!
Welcoming the Stranger was the theme of the Justice and Peace Commission Assembly and the perfect setting for the 30-minute liturgy called The Lampedusa Cross Pilgrimage. People were able to appreciate more the terrible suffering of many through simple telling stories, like Amina’s who is living in a displaced people’s camp in Darfur:
“I was sleeping when I heard our village being attacked. I didn’t know who was shooting at us or why, their faces were covered. First they came on camels and horses, then they came in heavy vehicles, and then they came on foot. There was so much screaming, people running, and fire everywhere. I was so afraid I just ran. I didn’t even put my shoes on.”
What is the Lampedusa Cross?
The Lampedusa Cross was made by the local carpenter Francesco Tuccio from the driftwood of capsized refugee boats on the island of Lampedusa near Malta and where thousands of refugees have drowned. The crosses have been gifted to Catholic communities across England and Wales and will now act as a symbol for communities in England and Wales as they respond to the refugee crisis.
As part of a campaign led by the Catholic charities CAFOD, CSAN and JRS UK, Mr. Tuccio’s crosses will now be shared with hundreds of churches across England and Wales for use by Catholics keen to respond to the call of Pope Francis to show greater compassion for migrants.
Around the Diocese
Fr Dave Heywood received the Cross at St Benedict’s in Warrington and in the space of a week, it was part of the four Sunday Masses in St Oswald’s, St Benedict’s and St Mary’s and the Polish Mass, and was the focus of assemblies, classroom sessions and a Mass in St Oswald’s and St Benedict’s Primary Schools. There has been a good deal of focus on refugees in the town and the use of the Lampedusa Cross enhanced this in an ecumenical setting as children from the school carried it ahead of 400 Catholics from schools and parishes in Warrington Walking Day on July 1st. To cap it all, one of Fr Dave’s parishioners, our own local carpenter Ged Beasley, has made a special box so the Cross can be transported safely (seen in the photo at the end below).
Following our Understanding CAFOD session at St Anne’s Ormskirk, Peter Mawtus contacted us and the parish prayer group used the Cross in their regular meeting. The following week, Peter led a large UCM group in the Pilgrimage.
St.George’s Primary School in Maghull also used the Cross in its Spirituality Day and all were deeply moved. At the end of the liturgy, people are invited to respond by writing postcard messages of hope which are sent to CAFOD to be used at the Mass at the end of the Year of Mercy and then shared with refugees around the world.
Joan Darwent contacted us and even on a rainy weekday morning, 25 people came to take part in the Pilgrimage at Our Lady’s in Croxteth, Liverpool. The Justice and Peace Group at St Charles’ and St Thomas’ in Aigburth also used it on a Wednesday evening, with people again deeply moved. We find the liturgy also enables people to talk afterwards in a group about refugees and migrants in a constructive way, connecting their concerns to experience, prayer, Catholic Social teaching and the Scriptures.
The Lampedusa Cross is now on the Isle of Man, received by CAFOD volunteer in the Douglas are Damian Peter after Mass on Monday at St Mary’s, Castletown.
If you would like to use it in your parish elsewhere in the Archdiocese, please see the CAFOD website for all of the Year of Mercy and Lampedusa Cross resources and contact us here as soon as possible if you wish to borrow the Cross.