By Sarah Mac Donald - 20 September, 2014
This Sunday’s ‘Walk to Church’ initiative is a way for Irish families and communities to express solidarity with Christian families from Iraq and Syria who have been targeted, terrorised and banished from their homes because of their faith according to the organiser.
Meath priest, Fr Robert McCabe, has said he hopes it will help Irish families to consider the trauma of their fellow Christians and their neighbours of other faiths who have fled their homes and towns in recent months.
Fr McCabe believes that the prayer “Deliver us Lord, we pray, from every evil and graciously grant peace in our days” has grown in resonance for the Christian people who are now living in refugee camps or struggling in temporary accommodation in a different parish.
He has invited bishops, priests and deacons to speak about the ‘Walk to Church’ initiative and to encourage their congregations to walk all or part of the journey on Sunday 21 September.
Pope Francis, in a letter to UN Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon, said he wished to “manifest my spiritual closeness and to express my concern, and that of the entire Catholic Church, for the intolerable suffering of those who only wish to live in peace, harmony and freedom in the land of their forefathers.” (Text: http://www.news.va/en/news/letter-of-the-holy-father-to-the-secretary-general)
The announcement on 9 September of the intention of Pope Francis to visit refugees along the Turkey-Iraqi border in November is a reminder that the people of this region have been marked with the sign of the cross since they first heard the preaching of St Peter’s brother Andrew at Constantinople or St Paul’s words at Damascus.
Declan Quinn from Aid to the Church in Need expressed the hope that “having gathered and prayed with our community, we will return to the safety of our own homes, conscious of the suffering of those less fortunate than ourselves.”
Donations received by Aid to the Church in Need are being distributed directly to parishes in Iraq and Syria who are struggling to cope with feedings and sheltering the population of Christians and religious minorities seeking beds, medication and pastoral care.
For further information:
iCatholic interview: http://www.icatholic.ie/walk-pray-persecuted/