Saturday, 17 September was a very special day at St Michael’s, Hathersage. We were delighted to welcome 45 visitors from the Doncaster Conversation Club to our small church in the Hope Valley.
The Hope Valley is not noted for being very cosmopolitan and we were really struggling to think of ways of showing solidarity with our refugee brothers and sisters. A chance meeting with Paul FitzPatrick from Doncaster Conversation Club at a Justice and Peace meeting got us thinking. We live and attend Mass in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. The church in Hathersage has lovely grounds. We are pretty good at making cakes and organising meals. Why not just offer our hospitality and friendship?
It was wonderful to see so many smiling faces at the station and to walk with new friends to our church. The Danish pastry “pit stop” breakfast went down a treat. And we thought we had over-catered!
Rangers from the Peak Park arrived and led the group on a walk to North Lees Hall. They all arrived back, tired but full of excitement about everything they had seen, for a late lunch in the garden. And the sun shone –not an entirely reliable event in the Peak District.
By coincidence, as a prelude to the United Nations Summit, on 17 September thousands joined demonstrations across the country to show that refugees are welcome here. We were proud to have played a small part in this.
Parishioners from both of the Hope Valley parishes – Our Lady of Sorrows, Bamford and St Michael’s, Hathersage – came together to make this a very joyful occasion. But we couldn’t have done it without the enthusiastic support of our Parish Priest, Fr Martin Clayton.
As our visitors said, “We enjoyed the blessing of nice food served with love,” and “A wonderful day. I would like to come again”. Well, you will all be very welcome!