For 3 days at the end of August, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus & Mary (Chigwell Sisters) welcomed parishioners to their home at Chigwell Convent in order to ‘Share the Journey’. Sr Clara Phiri, a Chigwell Sister, describes why her congregation is moved to express solidarity with displaced people across the world.
As part of the world-wide call by Pope Francis to ‘Share the Journey’, we the Chigwell Sisters walked in solidarity with millions of refugees and migrants who flee from war, poverty and exploitation, in search of safety for themselves and their loved ones.
We opened the doors of our gardens at the convent for 3 days to give an opportunity to our parishioners to pray freely whenever it suited them. We decided to conduct our journey in this way to celebrate our Feast day of St Augustine which fell on the August 28 and this was our way to unite ourselves with all the people around the world who are currently struggling to find a place to call home.
This campaign is important for our Congregation because we have a community in Pabo in north Uganda, and near to the border with South Sudan. It is also close to the Bidi Bidi camp which is one of the fastest growing refugee camps in Africa. The Bidi Bidi camp is home to approximately 270,000 South Sudanese refugees that are fleeing the ongoing civil war.
The fact that a poor country like Uganda has opened its doors to welcome our brothers and sisters inspired us to take part in this campaign to include our voices in the cry for help for all the people that are currently suffering due to this crisis. Our hope is that at the forthcoming UN General Assembly the UK government will take the lead and speaking up for the implementation of policies that create a world where refugees and migrants and people on the move are treated with dignity and respect, and that protect the life of every human being.
We pray that world leaders seeing the tragedies currently being experienced by our brothers and sisters will respond with wisdom and compassion so that they do what is necessary to improve the lives of refugees and migrants.
40,000 CAFOD supporters have now walked over 100,000 miles as part of the Share the Journey campaign. Sister Clara handed our petition in to Downing Street recently urging the UK government to put the rights of refugees at the heart of the UN agreements.