NJPN Comment in the Catholic Universe

Liam Purcell

“In the shelter of each other, the people live.”
(Irish proverb)

In a divided world, this proverb is a reminder of the importance of love and connectedness. It reminds us that one cannot thrive at the expense of the other and many of our churches are finding exciting and creative ways to realise this.

At Church Action on Poverty, we have been inspired by Pope Francis’ vision of “a poor church that is for the poor”. For us, this is one that understands people in poverty are not problems to be solved, not passive recipients of the church’s charity, but active parts of the body of Christ. We support churches to live out this vision, strengthening connections so that people in poor communities can work more fully within and alongside churches, and being welcoming to all.

This summer, we’re very pleased to be exploring these ideas at the National Justice and Peace Network’s conference. ‘In the Shelter of Each Other the People Live’ takes place at Swanwick in Derbyshire this weekend. We’ll be asking: How do we build a church and a society with the marginalised, the excluded and the most vulnerable at their heart? What does ‘home’ mean for those who are homeless or struggling to keep a roof over their heads, for those who have fled their homes, or for those who are rejected or don’t ‘fit in’? And for the comfortable and secure, is home a space to defend or to open in welcome? Can we recognise that it is only in relationship with each other and with the Earth that we can all be truly ‘at home’?

There are some great speakers. Revd Al Barrett will talk about his experiences of building an ecumenical “outside-in” church on a diverse outer estate in a city. David McLoughlin, a lecturer at Newman University, will explore the relationship between theology and everyday life. Sarah Teather will draw on her experiences as Director of Jesuit Refugee Service UK. John Grogan, Labour MP for Keighley and Ilkley, is committed to issues of social justice and peace, voting against Trident renewal.

The main celebrant at the conference Mass will be Fr Colm Kelly, an Apostleship of the Sea port chaplain. 15 workshops will include: Gun and Knife violence (Pax Christi), Interfaith (Columbans), Modern Slavery (Medaille Trust), Housing and Homelessness (Housing Justice), Peace/Nuclear weapons (Christian CND), Refugees/Migrants (CAFOD) and Biodiversity (Mary Colwell).

All are welcome, including families with children.

See: https://www.justice-and-peace.org.uk/conference/

Liam works for Church Action on Poverty, based in Salford.