Good evening from Brussels! It has been a busy start to our 10-day pilgrimage around Europe.
This morning our coach left St John Vianney’s parish at 6am. From there we travelled down to Dover- meeting a few pilgrims on the way. At 9.30 our ferry left the shores of the United Kingdom for main land Europe, arriving in France around an hour and half later.
In Calais, we stopped to meet with representatives from Secours Catholique. While there we discussed the work they do with the community in Calais, as well as the work they do with refugees. We were told about the day centre run by the Catholic Worker that works with vulnerable refugees especially minors and about some of the other projects that work in Calais. This fitted very well with our theme today on refugees at the gate of Europe. Brother Johannes reminded us that the fences and often the police force are paid for by the British tax payer. A couple of years ago, I spent the Easter weekend on the US/ Mexico border and today reminded me of how similar our border situation with France is to the situation there.
Following on from our trip we arrived in Brussels. The theme for our group while here is Europe- the local and the world. Tomorrow we will be seeing the European Parliament and meeting with a few organisations that work here in Brussels.
There are 22 of us traveling together across main land Europe, from Brussels we move to Strasbourg, down to Taize and on into Italy visiting both Assisi and Rome. On the way back, we will stop off for in Geneva.
Why? We are interested in seeing where our relationship with other organisations working on similar projects across Europe will be heading after March 2020. We want to continue these relationships and strengthen them. We hope to be inspired by the stories we hear, to continue our work and move into new areas while deepening our current work. And most importantly we want to develop our faith and spiritual understanding from these cities and holy places around Europe. Each of us come with our own stories, our own journeys and expectations but over the next 10 days we will take these steps together to look at what does being European mean to us and where do we go next.