Advent is a time of waiting as we prepare to welcome Jesus into the world. This brings to mind the lived experience of refugees around the world waiting to find safety, to hear from a loved one, about a decision about their future… waiting to be welcomed.
Passionate about justice and peace and in solidarity with refugees all over the world, the Columbans are holding a Candlelit Advent Service for Refugees on Thursday 16th December 20:00 – 21:00, in which we will remember all those who have lost their lives whilst seeking a better life. We will remember those who live in fear of violence and oppression, those journeying to safety and those waiting to hear news from those they love.
Figures suggest that more than a staggering 25,000 people have made the dangerous but necessary journey from France to the UK across the English Channel this year. These families are fleeing war, violence and persecution and fear for their lives. Very recently it was reported that 27 people drowned trying to reach UK shores in the deadliest crossing on record. This demonstrates the increasingly desperate and dangerous decisions that people are having to make in pursuit of safety.
For the past 20 years the Missionary Society of St. Columban has committed to, “continue accompanying and defending the rights of migrants,” and to address the underlying causes of the migration of peoples. Columbans recognise the right to migrate in search of a better life and support refugees and asylum seekers in a number of places, such as the US-Mexico border, Australia and in Britain.
Nathalie Marytsch is a Columban Lay Missionary in Britain and as part of her ministry, welcomes refugees and asylum seekers in Birmingham, offering practical support and advice too. She explains, “It’s heart-breaking to hear over and over again in the news about people risking their lives to cross the English Channel to get to the safety of UK shores. The Nationality and Borders Bill is a policy which does nothing to increase safe and legal routes to the UK.” She adds, “I fear dangerous crossings across the Channel will continue if the Bill is not amended, as it is the only route for most people looking to claim asylum in the UK.”
The Nationality and Boarders Bill is currently in its final stage in the House of Commons. MPs have the opportunity to vote for amendments to the Bill which would give refugees and those claiming asylum more protection.
During the Candlelit Advent Service for Refugees there will be prayer, scripture readings and hymns as well as quiet reflection and an opportunity to take action in support of refugees. As a display of solidarity, we invite participants to light their own candles during the service.
Please spread the word amongst your family, friends and companions and we look forward to seeing you there!
Thursday 16th December 20:00- 21:00 on Zoom.
Click here to join the meeting: https://bit.ly/31nbcju
Meeting ID: 841 0147 9433
A Pope's prayer for immigrants
Merciful God, we pray to you for all the men, women and children who have died after leaving their homelands in search of a better life.
Though many of their graves bear no name, to you each one is known, loved and cherished.
May we never forget them, but honour their sacrifice with deeds more than words. We entrust to you all those who have made this journey, enduring fear, uncertainty and humiliation, in order to reach a place of safety and hope.
Just as you never abandoned your Son as he was brought to a safe place by Mary and Joseph, so now be close to these, your sons and daughters, through our tenderness and protection.
In caring for them may we seek a world where none are forced to leave their home and where all can live in freedom, dignity and peace.
Merciful God, wake us from the slumber of indifference, open our eyes to their suffering, and free us from the insensitivity born of worldly comfort and self-centredness.
Inspire us, as nations, communities and individuals, to see that those who come to our shores are our brothers and sisters.
May we share with them the blessings we have received from your hand, and recognize that together, as one human family, we are all migrants, journeying in hope to you, our true home, where every tear will be wiped away, where we will be at peace and safe in your embrace.