Refugee Week and Sanctuary Sunday 2021 around Ireland
A number of churches around the island undertook to mark Refugee Week and Sanctuary Sunday this year.
Carrigaline Union of Parishes in the Diocese of Cork has recently begun the process to become a Church of Sanctuary. This year on Sanctuary Sunday, the parish welcomed Fiona Finn, the CEO of NASC Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre in Cork to speak at the 11 am Service. Fiona thanked the parish for their existing involvement with NASC over the last 2 years as part of the Community Sponsorship Initiative. Together with their neighbouring Roman Catholic parishes of Our Lady and St John’s Carrigaline and The Harbour Parishes, Carrigaline Union of Parishes are sponsoring a refugee family to live in the locality.
The Carrickmacross Group in the Diocese of Clougher, who earlier this year also ratified the Statement of Commitment as part of their engagement with the Church of Sanctuary process, also marked Refugee Week this year. The Statement of Commitment was read out as part of the their Sanctuary Sunday service, giving a genuine sense of their shared, public commitment to the Sanctuary ethos. Prior to Covid, the group of parishes had been making efforts to connect with asylum seekers living in the local area and offer a sense of welcome and hospitality.
In Dublin, Christ Church Cathedral organised a number of events across Refugee Week. The ‘What’s the Story? Lives in Direct Provision’ speaker series took place online, with contributions from five speakers. The Homing Pigeons: Birds with Wishes Exhibition (https://christchurchcathedral.ie/birds-with-wishes/) featured beautiful works of art created by school children in Aleppo, Syria and included some moving messages from the children about their hopes and dreams. It was organised in collaboration with Syrian architect Muhammad Achour, founder of the group Places of ARcture. Over the weekend the grounds of the cathedral hosted a community market, and a visit from the Sanctuary in Nature in Heritage group, with lunch and transportation kindly sponsored by Dublin City of Sanctuary. The week concluded with a service of choral evensong marking Sanctuary Sunday, prayers were led by the Revd Dr Laurence Graham of Abbey Street Methodist Church, a church with over two decades of commitment to an ethos of welcome. The preacher was Pastor Ebenezer Segatu of Birhan Evangelical Church. He preached on the Parable of the Good Samaritan [Luke 10: 25–37], noting that those who knew about the loving God, the priest and the Levite, passed the injured man by while the outsider, the Samaritan, showed compassion. “Jesus showed that the right question is not ‘who is my neighbour?’ but rather ‘Am I a neighbour?’ In this challenging time we are to be neighbours to those who are in need,” he stated.