On a glorious sunny Sunday, 1 July, an intrepid group of eighteen people from St Joseph’s, Moorends, St Nicholas, Thorne and our sister parish of Our Lady of the Assumption, Stainforth, set off to walk the three miles (there and back again), to St Nicholas in Thorne.
Walking helps talking and we shared many stories along the way. Following the excellent instructions in the CAFOD booklet, we heard and reflected on the stories of five people, all refugees for different reasons – war, persecution, poverty and natural disasters.
A very poignant link with war was the remembrance by one of our young men. His friend, a young soldier called Lee Davidson, had been killed in Afghanistan. So many refugees flee that war torn region but the terrible impact of war is felt by families here, too.
Quite a cavalcade of us moved along the route; with one family spurring us all on with a daughter pushing her father in a wheelchair, her mother pushing the little granddaughter in the buggy and the rest of us trying to keep up.
The cheerful welcome from the vicar, Rev David Green, as we reached St Nicholas church hall was much appreciated, as were the drinks and refreshments provided for us. This generous cooperation was the hallmark of the day.
Our new parish priest, Fr Santosh caused great amusement to passers-by as he marched along under the shade of his colourful umbrella.
On the return journey we recalled the witness of Lilian, from Stainforth, who had recently been to the Greek island of Lesvos, to oversee delivery of much needed sleeping bags and clothing, all collected in her parish. Huge numbers of refugees, crossing from Turkey, have landed on the shores of Lesvos – tired, hungry, desperate and afraid. Many, as we know, did not make it, but lost their lives at sea. Lilian helped prepare food, huge vats of vegetable stew, and distribute this to the families, who had no facilities for cooking. Her experience involved shock at the conditions in the camp, deep admiration for the volunteers who were trying to help and immense wonder at the gratitude and appreciation from the refugees themselves, and the resilience of the children, especially, who sought to help their elderly relatives.
Back in Thorne we signed the cards to send to our Prime Minister, to urge her to find a just, global solution, along with the UN and other world leaders, to the migrant and refugee crisis.
On this second walk around the world – the first target of 24,900 miles was reached on 20 June – we added fifty five miles!
One lady summed up our walk by remarking that it had been a genuinely spiritual experience. All being well, it is hoped to organise other walks to increase the total. Look out for announcements!