The Lampedusa cross at St Mary’s – Dunstable

Schools across the diocese continue to reflect upon the plight of refugees around the world.  The Lampedusa Cross (which CAFOD obtained and gave every Cathedral in England and Wales to display) is a wonderful symbol of solidarity and hope with refugees. The crosses are the work of a local carpenter, who moved by the many stories of death and loss made them out of the wreckage of the boats and gave them to the refugees as a symbol of hope.

Find out more about the Refugee Crisis and how CAFOD is responding >>

The Northampton Diocese Lampedusa Cross

 

In our diocese, the cross is journeying through schools and parishes. The latest school to welcome the cross was St Mary’s – Dunstable.

Last week,  the children from the Liturgy and First Holy Communion groups presented the cross at the beginning of Mass.  They then reflected upon the symbolism of the cross as the gateway to freedom and the openness of the Lampedeusa people towards refugees. The children also wrote their messages of hope, which are displayed on a poster.

 

Isabella read the story of the cross to the congregation. It was very moving.

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Isabelle explains the story of the Lampedusa Cross

The children  also sang this song, especially composed for the occasion:

Lampedousa (clap clap clap) x2
Makes crosses out of wood
Crosses from the shipwreck
To try and bring some good (clap clap clap)
For all those who perished
Beneath the fearsome waves
Crosses in their memory
And crosses for the saved
Lampedusa (clap clap clap) x2
What an amazing place
Showing us how we can
Grow stronger in our faith (clap clap clap)
(Shout) FAITH and raise arms high

After Mass, Isabella took the cross to Cardinal Newman School – Luton where she will be holding a series of assemblies.

If you would like to host the Lampedusa Cross in your parish for a time and hold a pilgrimage event, then please email Deborah Purfield at the CAFOD office at northampton@cafod.org.uk

A very special pilgrimage – X

The final day and return to the UK.  What an experience this has been for the pilgrims.

Last breakfast served by our lovely ladies

Daily exercise – 89 steps to and from the bedroom

After the usual 89 steps ascent and descend from her room to the dinning room for the last breakfast served by the wonderful ladies the group pack and leave the Centro Loyola.  The gardeners stop what they are doing to help the pilgrims.. what thoughtfulness and kindness of the people!

Armed guard at gate

Walk down the steep hill to the guarded gate to wait for coach

There is a steep hill from the Centro Loyola building to the gate (guarded by an armed guard) Debbie is not only physically feeling better but is also inspired and hopeful, keen to share her experience with people back in the UK.

Traffic on the way to the airport

Barbed wires used in many places

The traffic getting to the airport was the usual bumper-to-bumper ride.  Lots to see on the way.  Interesting that so many properties had barbed wires to keep people out and the country will not go short of tyres with the number of tyre shops there are!

The group were pleased to see that the airport also kept Romero alive… even if it is a mouthful.

Great to see the airport named after Romero

Debbie reflects on her pilgrimage

“I was expecting to learn more about Blessed Oscar Romero and visit a few sites and pray there but what I experienced was life changing.  I encounter much more than my expectations.  I met great fellow pilgrims with similar vision.  I met the wonderful people of El Salvador who taught me what to be community.  To give till it hurts and not count the cost, not to seek revenge but still have hope and strength in the fight for justice.

I heard of and encountered so many brave and courageous people.  They were joyful in the little things and were thanking and praising God at each opportunity.  In a land where such injustices and horror have taken place, the hand of God is visibly at work.  What great faith the Salvadoreans have!”

Julia and family keen to share their work with us

Feeding the pilgrims with such love

“Seeing CAFOD’s partners working with the people was wonderful.  I was so overwhelmed by the strength and desire of the community to change their lives, not to rely on hand-outs.  Such dignity and pride in what they did to get out of the clutches of poverty.  Amazing attitude!

“I shall do as Sr Martha asks and share my experience and stories so that I too can stand in solidarity with the people to give voice to the voiceless .”

 >> Find out more about the Romero Trust 

 

 

 

 

A very special pilgrimage – IX

The last day in El Salvador before the trip back to the UK the following day.  What a wonderful way to spend the day at a CAFOD project.  Debbie went with 11 other pilgrims to the community at Puentecitos, a small village near the border of Guatemala, who are improving community life by opening small businesses and using organic farming methods. This is the community th

at is featured in Connect 2 El Salvador scheme.

Debbie with Erasmus

They were met by Erasmus, one of the project leaders.  Sadly his father-in-law had just died in an accident and Debbie says, “despite that, he wanted to remain with us till his replacement came.  He said that our presence and support was a great help to him! I was so moved.”

 

We met Julia and her lovely family.  They were the featured family in CAFOD’s geography pack for primary school and it was wonderful to see how they had grown with a new addition to the family!

New addition to the family

Some of Julia and Fedel’s family

The group were told about all the projects that the community were involved in with CAFOD’s support working through the local partner Solidarity CVX.

>>  See here for more information about the Connect 2 project

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Tortilla made my Julia’s eldest daughter

The group were given a tour of Julia’s home and saw the chickens, pigs, sacks of corn from the previous harvest, hand-made baskets and shampoo.  Such a joy to see the community so empowered!  They were then made even more welcome with a wonderful lunch cooked by Julia’s eldest daughter on a stove using wood.  Debbie noted

“I was breathing in the smoke from the wood  even from where I was sitting and it struck me how the family have to breath in these unhealthy fumes everyday!  It made me realise  how important our Power to Be campaign was to get the World bank to invest in renewable and safe energy”

>>  Sign the petiton to the World Bank

Before the lovely lunch the community sang to their visitors

Then came the lunch which was so lovingly prepared for us.

“I was surrounded by the community and could hardly speak more than 5 Spanish words but we got on great.  Our driver was invited for lunch too and he had a Google translator on his mobile phone.  With that, we had a fun and interesting conversation.  Just goes  to show how technology can help!”

 

Partaking in the lunch provided by the Puentecitos community

 

After lunch, the community were so keen for us to see how their efforts literally bore fruit.

Showing the produce of the land

“We were taken to the neighbour’s land to show us their numerous fruit trees.

It was fantastic to see first hand what I have been sharing with volunteers and supporters in the UK.

I can see how empowered  and dignified people are.  They don’t want hand outs.  They are determine to improve their lives by putting in effort and time to get there.  It has certainly paid off!”

 

Little ones enjoying the air condition van

 

The little ones were thrilled to sit in the air conditioned van and watch a cartoon!

 

 

 

 

Community at prayer

The community pray together every Thursday and they always pray for CAFOD.  How wonderful we are thought about and prayed for too.

It was a shame that Edelmira (who was the featured person for Harvest 2017) couldn’t be with us as the local transport left before she could get to the stop but she sent her warm wishes to all of us.

Everyone came away full of hope and Joy.

Great to meet Julia in person

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

>> Find out more about El Salvador