A 'Solidarity with Refugees' Walk of Witness will take place in Birmingham this Sunday (2 October) to coincide with the Conservative Party Conference.
Walkers will include Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, who will bless those present and speak of the need to Welcome the Stranger in this Year of Mercy. Fr Peter Hughes, Director of the Columbans in Britain, will be amongst the Columban missionaries' contingent. Other groups include CAFOD, CSAN, Caritas Birmingham and the Jesuit Refugee Service. Walkers will depart from St Chad's Cathedral at 12.30pm, following the 11.00am Mass, and move through Birmingham, along the canal to the International Convention Centre, where the Conservative Party Conference is being held.
Amidst the Refugee Crisis, seemingly small acts can make a massive difference. One example of this is Francesco Tuccio, a carpenter from the small Italian island of Lampedusa. When hundreds of refugees who were fleeing Eritrea and Somalia drowned off the coast of Lampedusa, he was moved to gather the driftwood from the wrecked boats and turn them into crosses, which he offered to survivors as a small but powerful symbol of hope. 'We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees...are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.'
Pope Francis carried one of the Lampedusa crosses at a memorial Mass to commemorate people who have died, and the British Museum is now displaying a Lampedusa cross as a reminder to people of the refugee crisis the world is facing. CAFOD has sent Lampedusa crosses to every cathedral in England and Wales, to be used by Catholics to reflect on the refugee crisis and what they can do to help.