In recent weeks and in light of the war and conflict unfolding in the Middle East, many parishes across our vast Diocese have organised prayer services, including participating in fasting and prayer for peace on the designated day by Pope Francis. Below is an inspiring story that first featured in independent Catholic News.

It illustrates the Christian ecumenical unity on this issue and our Diocesan pledge to pray for peace as well as to support the provision of humanitarian aid for those who are suffering and in need. Our Diocesan Administrator Canon Paul Cummins recently referred to war as always being a ‘defeat’ and recorded a video encouraging us to keep prayer at the centre of our lives. He and other Christians in Sidmouth took part in a prayer service that was open to all, and he encourages us to continue to come together and pray for peace.

A group of Christians from the various churches in Sidmouth, Devon, gathered in the Market Place on Friday morning, asking people to pray for peace in the Middle East.

Naomi Hogg, Pastoral Assistant from the Catholic Church of The Most Precious Blood in Sidmouth, who organised the gathering, explained: “This came from a feeling of helplessness when people have asked ‘what can we do?’ For all Christian communities, it had been recommended by Pope Francis that we should gather together and invite people to pray for peace in the Middle East in response to the escalating activity there. As Christians we decided to gather together to pray in the Market Place and to invite anyone who would like to, to join in.

“Copies of the CAFOD prayer cards were given out for people to join in with and also take home.

“Several gatherings like this one have taken place before in Sidmouth, whenever there have been disasters around the world and nearer to home. People gathered together to pray in the Market Place and light candles at the time of the terrorist attacks in London, the Manchester bombings and also when war broke out in Ukraine.”

Naomi told ICN: “I thought that you might like to know that even in a small seaside town in Devon we are all deeply affected by the current situation, not in any way taking sides but as Pope Francis has stressed we are praying for a ceasefire and for peace.”