A group of west London teenagers preparing for their Confirmation, walked ten kilometres through wind and rain, from the doors of a homeless centre in Acton, to Westminster Cathedral on Saturday, as part of their service project.
Each year, Confirmation candidates from Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Acton, take on a project to raise funds for Acton Homeless Concern, which is made up of two local centres, Emmaus House and the Damian Centre. Started by the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, who administer the parish, the projects have been serving the most vulnerable people in the area since 1988.
The idea for the walk came from catechist Anne Scanlon, who walked the Camino to Santiago de Compostella, last year. It was decided to link the idea of pilgrimage to the service project in order to raise the teenagers' awareness of Catholic Social Teaching, as well as raising money for the charity. Annette Brazier, coordinator for the Confirmation Programme, invited Ian Breen, manager of Acton Homeless Concern, to speak to the teenagers and their parents about the work of the centre. The catechists then linked it to the teaching of Jesus' preferential option for the poor.
Anne spoke about her experience on the Camino and the young people then sought out sponsorship from friends and family. They were sponsored per kilometre. Some money is still coming in but the group of 21 have already managed to raise about £2,000.
At the Cathedral, the group was met by Fr Gerard Skinner, who welcomed them and gave them a tour of the cathedral. The day finished in the crypt with prayers and crosses were blessed and given to each of the pilgrims as a reminder that they had taken up their crosses that day and made sacrifices for others.
On the way out of the cathedral, one of the many homeless people who are frequently in the piazza, came and spoke to one of the catechists. Strangely, he asked about the group and when he was told about what they had done, he was visibly moved by the teenagers' efforts, who had braved the elements that day for homeless people. He told the young people that they he was grateful for people like them and thanked them as a homeless person himself.
For further information see: www.acton-olol.com/
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