The concepts of Sanctuary and Hospitality are prominent in many different religions and expressions of faith.
When a faith community receives the Place of Sanctuary designation, it is an affirmation that the community is one in which hospitality and sanctuary are woven into their life and explicitly stated, so that those looking for a welcome will know that they will find one there.
Many places of worship are already practising this. Others may wish to embark on the process. The hope is to build a network of places of worship where those in need of sanctuary will know they will find a home that is committed to provide a safe, inclusive, welcoming space.
The Faiths Stream steering group are happy to provide guidance and encouragement for faith groups ready to embark on the Sanctuary Journey and work towards the Places of Sanctuary designation. This is a process that includes the following:
- Learn: become familiar with the legal terms and processes around seeking sanctuary, and other issues related to asylum and migration; explore and discuss as a community how hospitality and sanctuary towards those seeking refuge may be expressed in your context;
- Embed: ensure that this awareness becomes a dynamic part of the life of the faith community; look for ways to extend welcome, friendship and practical support; make this awareness part of the community’s decision-making processes; find ways to include the voices of those seeking sanctuary;
- Share: document and share your experiences on your website and social media, via your newsletter, or other media; encourage other communities within your network/denomination to join in the Sanctuary journey as well.
We particularly encourage faith communities to mark Refugee Week each year in some way.
This process is intended to lead faith communities to engage in practical acts of friendship and solidarity.
At present, available documents and resources are framed in the language of ‘Church of Sanctuary’, however, the steering committee are keen to work with other interested faith groups to modify and develop resources that are appropriate to other religions.
- ‘Hospitality and Sanctuary for All’ discussion Guide, (available from the Churches of Sanctuary website)
- Sanctuary Statement of Commitment
If your church, mosque, synagogue, meeting or group is ready to embark on its Sanctuary journey please do get in contact Kevin Mascarenhas email [email protected] or Abigail Sines email [email protected]
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.