During their recent “day of recollection” all 275 of year 9 students from St Paul’s catholic school in Milton Keynes learnt about the tragic events of the boat that was wrecked off the coast of Lampedusa on the 11th October 2013 with the loss of over 360 lives.
“Increasingly we are witnessing families and communities being pulled apart, with many risking – and losing – their lives in a bid to reach safety in Europe. Our Catholic faith calls us to act, yet such is the scale of the problem it can be hard to know how we can best help.” said teacher Andrew Beckett.
Yet even seemingly small acts can make a massive difference. One example of this is Francesco Tuccio, a carpenter from the small Italian island of Lampedusa. When hundreds of refugees who were fleeing Eritrea and Somalia drowned off the coast of Lampedusa, he was moved to gather the driftwood from the wrecked boats and turn them into crosses, which he offered to survivors as a small but powerful symbol of hope.
Pope Francis is asking us in this Year of Mercy to do corporal works of mercy such as welcoming the stranger. The Pope himself carried one of the Lampedusa crosses at a memorial Mass to commemorate people who died. The British Museum is now displaying a Lampedusa cross as a reminder to people of the refugee crisis the world is facing.
The students took up CAFOD’s challenge of writing messages of hope and prayers on the Lampedusa action cards for all those affected by the Refugee crisis. They were then each given a “message of hope” card and asked to write their own message of hope/prayer. Two examples from those written are
“I hope that the refugees are able to get to where they need to go safely and to always remember there are people out there hoping and praying you will be safe”
“that they are all in a happy and safe place. I also hope that you will continue to keep up your faith in God as he will do a miracle very soon”
For those wanting to pray with the Lampedusa cross, it can be borrowed from the cathedral. Just get in touch with them or with the local CAFOD volunteer centre email@example.com .
Written by Andrew Beckett