By: Fleur Brennan
Children from Westminster Cathedral Primary School marked Peace Sunday in a very special way this year. Headteacher Mrs Alexandra Stacey led a special assembly base on the story of the Flight into Egypt. The children also completed an acrostic poem about Peace and created a candle to represesent countries where there are refugees. Their work was displayed at Holy Apostles Church, Pimlico during all the Masses on Peace Sunday.
Parish priest Father Pat Browne preached on the Pope's theme, Migrants and Refugees, Seekers of peace, telling the story of five US soldiers in World War Two France trapped by an enemy sniper. Under heavy fire, one died, but the rest drove him away.
When the shooting had stopped, they took the body of their friend to the village church for burial. But the young priest would not allow him to be buried on hallowed ground because no one knew if he had been baptised, so his comrades buried him just outside the graveyard fence, and went away.
Many years later, they came for a reunion in France, and knocked on the priest's door. The same priest, now decades older answered.
"Do you remember us," they asked.
"I have never forgotten you, or that day," he said. The night after you left, I was so wracked by my guilt, I couldn't sleep, so the next morning, I went an bought a load of wooden slats, and I took up the old fence, and built a new one around your fiend to include him in the churchyard," said the old priest.
Father Pat said this is what the Church's message of today was - not to build fences to keep refugees and migrants out of our lives, but to open our hearts to them and give them a welcome. He referred to the peace keeping work of Pax Christi, which was set up to resolve conflicts non-violently and to bring justice and peace in accordance with Jesus' Gospel Message.
He also urged Christians to welcome refugees into our own communities, and is currently part of an inter-faith drive to welcome Syrian Refugees to Westminster under the Government's Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.
Westminster Cathedral Primary School - www.westminstercathedralprimary.org.uk