What has prayer to do with protest? This was discussed on Saturday 26 January at the Christian Education Centre in Crawley, West Sussex. The day was led by two impressive speakers, Fr Kevin Dring, a Catholic social teaching expert and parish priest, and penal reformer Juliet Lyons CBE. They were part of the annual Justice and Peace Assembly of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arundel & Brighton.
Fr Kevin Dring is a parish priest in Hove on the south coast, but has also lectured in Catholic social teaching. In addition he has day to day experience of working with poor communities not only in the UK, but also Peru. He said: "Catholic social teaching creates a seamless garment that recognises the dignity of all human beings from conception to death that is concerned with seeking justice for all who are vulnerable and marginalised in our global society. Jesus gives us in gospels the prophetic model both of prayer and protest."
Fr Kevin was followed by Juliet Lyon, CBE, director of the Prison Reform Trust, secretary general of Penal Reform International and vice president of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). She spoke strongly the need for the reform of the British prison system so that there is not a 'revolving door' from which offenders cannot escape, of crime, prison, release, crime and prison again.
There were over 150 participants at the day who not only enjoyed the input, but were inspired by the two speakers during the morning as well as the afternoon workshops. These workshops addressed the issues of lobbying your MP and Government, and active campaigning.
Diocesan adviser on Justice & Peace, David Thomson said "It was a tremendous day especially given the calibre of the speakers. We were also pleased that as well as many supporters from across Surrey and Sussex, the local Crawley MP Henry Smith was here for this important event."
Mark Woods, who took part in the day said: "I was really inspired by our speakers and workshops and plan to return to the parish and carry on praying and working for justice and peace locally, nationally and internationally. I believe that all of us doing our bit can make a difference and be real witnesses to the Christian desire to bring about a world of justice and peace."