“Our nationality is an accident of birth. We do not own this country: we are merely stewards of its resources…” Those words from the Guardian newspaper echo the words of Pope Francis. They were a response to the migrant “crisis” and a few desperate souls risking their lives to reach us across the English Channel.
In 2016 our Parish responded to a picture of little Alun Kurdi’s body washed up on the shores of Greece. For three years we have welcomed refugees from Manchester and Burnley, providing a day that lifted our hearts as well as theirs. Our Parish has done more: the “Refugee Come Dine with Me initiative” has provided a model for the rest of the Diocese, as also we have helped establish the Clitheroe English Club which helps refugees and asylum seekers learn basic English, and parishioner and friends knitted many hundreds of squares for blankets for Syrian refugees in Turkey.
We can never do enough. Pope Francis has repeatedly reminded us that caring for refugees lies at the heart of our Faith. Our Parish response to the “Hope in the Future” programme and the “Live Simply” initiative are based on the interconnected messages of Pope Francis’ two great letters – Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si. Both hinge on our response to the poor, the exploited, the marginalised and migrants.
“Refugee Day Out” for 2019 needs your support. Revive in Manchester, New Neighbours in Burnley, the Clitheroe Mosque and Stonyhurst College are all looking forward to this year’s event but we need a new chair and more volunteers. Three years is more than enough for two people to take on this task which Tom and Kathryn Clay have done so selflessly until now. So, we are looking for someone to take over the torch. But do not fear: the framework and contacts are now in place and with a few more volunteers the leadership can easily be shared. Could you consider volunteering? Please see me, Anthony Brown or Tom Clay.
This Wednesday, January 23rd, our Parish hosts Sean Ryan, charismatic speaker and accomplished musician who will speak on on his work on the Diocesan Refugee Sponsorship Programme. Starting with St Monica’s in Flixton in 2016, parishes throughout the Diocese have sponsored refugee families. St Wilfrid’s Longridge and St Joseph’s Hurst Green will soon follow. It will be an interesting and entertaining evening but mostly we hope it will motivate our Parish and the wider Clitheroe community to support this year’s “Refugee Day Out”.