A senior Derry priest believes parishioners throughout the diocese are ready to accept refugees affected by the current migrant crisis in Europe into their local parishes.
Waterside Parish Priest Fr. Michael Canny told local Catholics that “faith is not a hobby for the weekend” and said there was a “genuine willingness to help” refugees locally.
Fr. Canny’s words come at a time when many countries throughout the world are trying to decide how best to deal with the recent influx of refugees fleeing such places as the war-torn Middle East, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Faith is not a hobby for the weekend, it is about doing all we can to help our brothers and sisters in need, whoever they may be or wherever they come from,” he told the ‘Journal.’
Fr. Canny echoed the sentiment of Pope Francis when His Holiness called on “every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family” at the end of his Angelus prayers in Rome on Sunday last.
“These refugees are on a journey of hope, the Gospel is also about a journey of hope,” continued Fr. Canny.
“Having spoken to some clergy locally there is a genuine willingness, I believe, to help in a practical way at this time. Because the entry of refugees has to come through governments we are at odds as how to help. Despite this, I feel many Catholic parishes are willing to take in a refugee family or two, at this time and sustain them over a longer period of time.”
Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Ken Good, said it was up to every man and woman to do what they can to help the refugees.
“If each of us plays a part, if all of us acts as Christ wants us to, I am hopeful that this terrible crisis can be eased,” said Bishop Good.
In recent days, Derry people from all walks of life have mobilised to do what they can to help the people affected by what many are describing as the greatest humanitarian crisis witnessed in Europe since the Second World War.
Local musicians have organised a special concert which will take place Sandino’s on Thursday evening and primary six pupils at St. Oliver Plunkett’s P.S. in Strathfoyle donated all the money they raised from selling vegetables to Syrian refugees.
Spar outlets in Strathfoyle, Galliagh and the EuroSpar in Hatfield have set-up collection points and customers are encouraged to donate what they can.
Galaxy Allstar Cheer in Springtown Industrial Estate is acting as a collection point for people wishing to donate to the Northern Ireland Calais Refugee Solidarity appeal. Items can be left at the club Monday to Friday from 4:30p.m. to 6:00p.m.
Million Dollar Fitness in Bonds Hill on the Waterside is another collection point for the Northern Ireland Calais Refugee Solidarity appeal and anyone wishing to donate can drop in Monday to Friday from 8:00a.m. to 2:00p.m.
Faith is not a hobby for the weekend, it is about doing all we can to help our brothers and sisters in needDerry priest, Fr. Michael Canny