Our Lady of the Valley Parish piloted Refugee Dine With Me some two years ago as a simple response to the world refugee crisis and Pope Frances’s plea to the world to “Welcome the stranger”.This is something simple that anyone can do – invite a refugee family for a meal.
The results were very positive, for both ‘hosts’ and ‘guests’. Since then, with the support of Caritas Salford, a “Toolkit” has been devised and published on line and in booklet form, so that any Parish or community group can make the idea work in their community. The Toolkit includes lots of tips and advice for families looking to take part. You can find it online at https://www.caritassalford.org.uk/service-view/refugee-dine-with-me
It has now been taken up by other Parishes and indeed schools in the Salford Diocese.
In the introduction to the booklet, Bishop John Arnold himself says: “It is a very simple but effective way of welcoming people into our parishes who have left their homes and families to seek refuge and safety amongst us. When people sit together to share a meal, especially people from different cultures and life experiences, there is an opportunity to share more than just food. They create what Pope Francis has called a ‘culture of encounter.’ In accepting to share a meal together, both host and guest are opening themselves to a very human encounter that breaks down barriers and builds new friendships.”
We are now bringing the idea back to our Parish. As well as the small number of refugees and asylum seekers living in our Parish who come to the Clitheroe English Club classes to learn English, we have teamed up with New Neighbours in Burnley, a charity run by volunteers and the refugees themselves, which supports refugees and asylum seekers, and which is based in St. John the Baptist RC Church Hall. They will help identify guests interested in taking part.
If you are interested in participating, please take the leaflet and fill in the form, copies of which are at the back of Church, or download it from the OLOV website. If you have any queries on how it works, contact Tom Clay on 07962136749.
As individuals, we can do so little, but we can at least make people who have been through so much feel welcome to our country, and what better way to do this than invite them to our homes for a meal!