A personal reflection by Alex Miranda, Caritas Diocese of Plymouth Refugee and Migration Project Lead.

Plymouth Cathedral held a very beautiful Mass for Refugees on 23rd June to close Refugee Week. We were privileged to have CAFOD’s Lampedusa Cross on the altar, a poignant reminder of the desperate plight of people fleeing persecution and poverty in their homelands to seek a place of sanctuary.

Canon Mark O’Keeffe gave a moving homily on the origins of the Lampedusa Cross and the hardships faced by people seeking asylum, reminding us to heed Pope Francis’ call to Welcome, Protect, Promote and Integrate those forced to flee their own countries in search of safety. It is all too easy, when faced with political headlines, to forget that behind all the statistics, are individual people, made in God’s image, deserving respect and dignity.

The first lesson was read by someone with direct experience of migration,  who found a warm welcome and spiritual home at Plymouth Cathedral, soon becoming actively involved in parish life. She described the congregation as her new family.

It was truly wonderful after the Refugee Mass to connect with a person seeking asylum, who has just been sent back to Plymouth and was attending the Cathedral for the first time; it gave an opportunity to extend a warm welcome and understanding, inviting him to stay for coffee after Mass, and to come back to the Cathedral regularly. It is in such genuine expressions of love and in walking alongside someone facing hardship and isolation that we can see Catholic Social Teaching at its most compassionate and uplifting.

You can watch a recording of the Caritas online event, with inspiring speakers sharing ideas for supporting those seeking asylum.

Please look out for events coming up in late September to commemorate World Day of Migrants and Refugees, and  contact Alex if you wish to discuss ideas for supporting people seeking asylum or refugees. We would love to hear from you.

Alex Miranda Caritas Diocese of Plymouth