UK Associates were given a very warm welcome by the Sisters at Rearsby on 18th March 2017. Many of the Sisters joined us for the morning of reflection and for the covenanting ceremony, and the daughter of one of our Associates, Maria Lee who was renewing her covenant, came for this special occasion. Our Associate co-Directors, Kathleen McBride and Mary Fortey, prepared a moving and thought-provoking programme.
The first part of our day together took the form of a pilgrimage to show solidarity with refugees fleeing war, poverty and persecution. We began with a reminder that Pope Francis has called migration the challenge of our age, saying that the answer lies in the Gospel of Mercy. Six short stages formed the pilgrimage, each stage including prayers, refugee facts, an opportunity to reflect on Scripture and on the recent teachings of Pope Francis and a period of silence. The ‘pilgrims’, singing ‘Peace is flowing like a river’ were led from one stage to the next by Sister Anne Kenny carrying a candle and Associate Jacqui Thompson carrying a Lampedusa Cross. At each stop on the way we reflected on what it is to be a refugee; on the many factors - war, persecution, poverty & climate change - which force people from their homes world-wide; on the trials and dangers of the journey; on the welcome or rejection received along the way; and finally, we heard the story of the Cross of Compassion – the Lampedusa Cross – a rough wooden cross made by a Sicilian carpenter from the wood of a boat that sank off the island of Lampedusa, and from which only 151 refugees survived out of a boat-load of 500.
The recommitment liturgy followed with the ceremony of renewal of associateship of Jacqui Thompson, Revd. Mary Essex, Maria Lee and Anne Pask.
"The prophet does not compel, but asks people to see themselves, the world, and God in a new way."
Dorothy Vidulich, CSJP