22 July 2018:    

Ninety One Parishioners Share the Journey in Bury Knowle Park

Sporting “Share the Journey” badges and carrying the Lampedusa Cross, 91 parishioners from Corpus Christi Oxford and Our Lady of Lourdes Wheatley spent a sunny Sunday afternoon contributing 249 miles, one hundredth of the distance around the globe, to the CAFOD Share the Journey totaliser, now on its fourth journey around the world.

The Parish Pilgrimage was part of the Parish’s commitment to respond to Pope Francis’s invitation in Laudato Si’ to “work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us” by reflecting on our lives in order to live simply, sustainably with creation, and in solidarity with people in poverty. The Parish is working towards CAFOD’s Live Simply Award.

On Sunday, the focus was on expressing solidarity with migrants and refugees. Parish Priest, Fr Mervyn Tower, celebrated all Masses at the weekend with the Lampedusa Cross on the altar, with which he blessed the congregations at the end of Mass – and his sermon reflected the scriptural imperative of supporting people on the move. In the afternoon, parishioners gathered in nearby Bury Knowle Park where they collected their Share the Journey badges and signed cards to send to the Prime Minister urging her to work with other world leaders to ensure global compacts on migration and refugees respect human dignity, protect the vulnerable and enable families to keep together by supporting host countries and tackling the reasons why people migrate. The journey began with a shared prayer from the CAFOD Share the journey cards.

It was not a race – and parishioners quickly spread out around the perimeter path, passing the Lampedusa Cross from one group to another; Fr Mervyn seemed to walk for a while with everyone. Half way round the park, there was a quiet prayer station for people to reflect a while on migrants’ stories, five of which were mounted on the Park fence for all to read. It was interesting that when it came to pack up at the end of the afternoon, other visitors to the park were reading the stories and there was a moving moment when a father was pointing out to his young son how fortunate they were not to be forced to flee their comfortable home in Oxford, thereby giving a powerful sign of this act of witness to the wider community.

Some people walked one circuit of the park whilst others walked up to six – depending upon health and fitness, again indicating the burden faced by migrants who often have to assist the vulnerable members of their families and communities to walk well beyond their natural strength and capabilities. 

At the end of the afternoon, parishioners gathered in a shady area to read aloud the five migrant stories, and then to pray together before Fr Mervyn blessed the pilgrims with the Lampedusa Cross. It was an afternoon that bonded parishioners within the church community but also gave some small insight into what it means to act in solidarity with those in poverty.

For more photographs from the Share the Journey walk, click here.