Michelle and fellow gapper Fiona went to the Youth Gathering in the Diocese of Clifton on Pentecost Sunday 2016. Over 100 youth gathered together to see the Lampedusa Cross.
The Lampedusa Cross was crafted by a Sicilian carpenter named Francesco Tuccio. Three years ago a boat carrying refugees caught fire and sank just off the island of Lampedusa, local people took action to help. Francesco Tuccio used his carpentry skills to create a symbol of respect, love and hope. The Lampedusa Cross was made from the boat wreckage. Surviving refugees were given the Lampedusa Cross in an act of solidarity and support.
Youth aged 12-25 gathered together to write messages of hope to refugees.
Bishop Declan came to celebrate mass at the Clifton Diocesan Youth Gathering, held at St Bede College, in Bristol. Some of the youth were preparing for confirmation whilst others were on gap years. The young people were given the opportunity to discuss the Year of Mercy and their faith in small groups.
All those gathered reflected on the words of Pope Francis:
“Don’t ever lose hope! The Lord has a great dream which, with your help, he wants to come true.” Pope Francis, Message for the Jubliee of Mercy to young people.
Fiona and Michelle are taking part in the CAFOD Gap Year programme, Step into the Gap. The two CAFOD Gappers, inspired the young people by sharing their photographs and experiences of the Year of Mercy and their time in Peru.
Fiona said, “During my time in Peru I saw the Year of Mercy being used in everyday life. We saw the young people of the community being clothed and empowered, being seen as a positive force for their community in one of the poorest districts in Peru.”
Michelle said, “The fact that I was able to visit CAFOD’s partner organisations, whilst experiencing a whole different culture is mind-blowing. Gender equality is an issue that I’m really passionate about so having the opportunity to see CAFOD working with partners to empower women is something that really excites me. I am delighted to be able to share stories that will inspire young people.”
Fiona and Michelle were overwhelmed by the welcome they received from their home diocese.
Michelle, who travelled with CAFOD to Peru, said:
“I think what has been inspiring is seeing how CAFOD is helping communities in practical ways to make a change in their lives and communities. It is empowering for them as it gives them dignity. Sharing these experiences with the youth of Clifton diocese, discussing ideas about the Year of Mercy and writing messages of hope for refugees, was incredible!”