Thank you for welcoming the stranger
5 December 2016
This year, thousands of you have taken action with welcome, respect and love for refugees around the world. Thanks to you, our sisters and brothers will now have reason to hope.
On Saturday 3 December, over a hundred people gathered at Welcome the stranger, a special service of dedication in Salford diocese. This service celebrated the enormous compassion of the Catholic community to welcome refugees this year.
We have received an astounding 24,000 messages of hope from parishes and schools across England and Wales. Bishop John Arnold dedicated and blessed your messages during the prayer service. These words of welcome are now being shared with our neighbours who are searching for a safe place to call home.
Your messages will bring hope to many
The prayer service, which marked the end of the Year of Mercy and the start of Advent, was an opportunity to reflect more deeply on the call of Christ to welcome the stranger. Together with representatives from CAFOD Salford, Revive, Caritas Social Action Network and Jesuit Refugee Services, we prayed for all those fleeing war, poverty or persecution.
Ryan Wilkinson, a young volunteer from Sheffield, shared his experience of meeting refugees who are being supported by CAFOD partners and who have fled conflict in Syria, Iraq and Palestine.
Brenda Garlick, a CAFOD supporter from St John Bosco parish, spoke about her parish pilgrimage for refugees. She said, “I think sending in messages for refugees is something that gives people hope. Being a Catholic is not just about coming to mass on a Sunday, it’s so much more than that, it’s about asking ourselves, ‘who is my neighbour?’”
Bishop John Arnold of Salford diocese said, “Coming together today in prayer to dedicate these messages is an essential witness to the Gospel values that we hold. There is such great work being done by the Catholic community to support refugees, and I know that there is still lots more work to be done.”
You can still make a difference
You still have time to send your messages to us if you haven’t already. We will continue to share them with refugees throughout 2017, so please encourage your friends and family to write their own message.
Thank you so much for making all this possible. Please remember our sisters and brothers seeking refuge in your prayers.