Seventeen hardy pilgrims braved the threat of rain and gathered on what turned out to be a beautiful, bright autumn day, for our Share the Harvest Pilgrimage last Sunday. We were warmly welcomed with a cup of tea and a bowl of delicious soup by members of St Francis de Sales Parish in Hartley as we began are pilgrimage with food and fellowship. We had a time of prayer and reflection in St Francis de Sales church were the parish priest Father Alex reminded us all of our calling to proclaim the gospel and share God’s love with all we meet. With this commission in our minds we set out on our pilgrimage to pray and proclaim.
We had four other stops to pray and reflect along the way inside local Anglican churches and out in the open countryside. We listened to Scripture highlighting our responsibility to share the wonderful resources that God has provided so that all may flourish, and we shared in collaborative reflections including writing prayers and pledges to live more sustainably on green foot prints and ‘picking’ our spiritual fruit to grow in our lives.
During the pilgrimage we carried an inflatable globe with us and at our final stop Eileen explained that it signified our global family and spoke about the importance of carrying our brothers and sister around the world, in our hearts, day by day. We heard quotes from CAFOD partners and we ended with some beautiful prayers written by year six pupils at the local primary school, Our Lady of Hartley, all about unity in our global family.
It was a wonderful day and during the walk, between stops, we had great opportunity to get to know one another and share our thoughts on the reflections and scripture we had heard. Some of those thoughts are share by pilgrims here:
Valerie Westrap who Volunteers in the CAFOD Southwark office said:
“The CAFOD pilgrimage was a great way to spend time together thinking about, and praying for people in other parts of the world who are in need, and how we can share the Harvest with them”
Kathy Szczegolski who Volunteers in the CAFOD Southwark Office said:
“To begin, it was wonderful to receive such a great welcome from St Francis de Sales parish and especially those who attended to our needs; the ladies who supplied us with wholesome soup, bread and cakes to support us on our way and the men who made sure we were safe on our way – they all did a splendid job, many thanks to them. The pilgrimage was very precious and moving; it was good to stop, reflect and pray and be welcomed at all the various locations – it helped very much to touch base every once in a while and be reminded that we were not just out for a Sunday stroll. It would be good to get into this pattern day by day; to stop rushing around – ask myself why am I here? for a little while during the day.
The feet reflection reminded me of the story of the two sets of footprints in the sand. Then suddenly there is only one set of footprints – it is Christ’s he is carrying me”
Pilgrim David Cadwallader says:
“What a blessing it was to be part of this pilgrimage! The day itself was really rewarding, and it introduced me to a number of new practical and engaging ways to connect with God in prayer. I found the ‘foot print’ prayers challenged me especially, highlighting the need to be better steward of creation. Also, worshiping in the woods was a great experience, I found it deeply moving.I had fantastic time and can’t wait for the next one! A massive thank you to CAFOD Southwark for organising it.”
Thank you so much to our enthusiastic pilgrims and to all at St Francis de Sales parish in Hartley who made this a truly memorable and moving day!
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