Wednesday, 27 June 2018

For 40.000 people's lives, ACN walk for Iraq

The following interview was conducted by Hussein Al-alak with Caroline Hull, the North West manager of Aid to the Church in Need. 

This is our second Iraq Solidarity News interview with Caroline, who along with her colleague Bridget, are doing a series of fundraising walks throughout 2018 - to help Iraq's Christian's rebuild their lives. 

Having walked from Lancaster Cathedral to Salford Cathedral and then from Salford Cathedral to Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, can you please tell us about your journeys?

Our walks were great! We had lovely weather nearly every day and we had a wonderful mixture of rural and urban walking. We walked along the canal most of the way from Lancaster to Preston—I think we saw more herons than people! 

Otherwise we walked along busy A roads, through built up neighbourhoods, along country lanes through tiny villages and sometimes through fields along footpaths. We were made to feel so welcome each time we stopped, and that was truly appreciated as we were tired and hot and thirsty! 

We’d like to thank all of the clergy and parishioners at each of our stops; it was an extra bonus to know that we would end each day with kind, supportive words and a cup of tea! 

As doing a long distance sponsored walk takes time and preparation, can you please tell us about the support and some of the feedback you are getting prior to and during your walks? 

It is a bit of a challenge to phone a parish priest out of the blue to explain about our walks and that we would like him to ‘stamp’ our pilgrim passport to prove that we’ve visited his church on our journey. 

Every single time, though, we received so much support—it was just marvelous! We pitched up after a long day’s walk—with increasingly sore feet and sunburned faces—and we are always welcomed with a smile and a special mention at Mass. We’ve also had some great chats with people we’ve met along the way. 

The ACN logos on our t-shirts attract a bit of attention and we always explain what we and ACN are doing to help Christians in Iraq. Quite a few people are happy to talk to us about the situation and we ask for prayers for Iraq’s Christians whenever we can. 

As many of the donations to your walks for ACN come from the North West of England, can you tell us how this will help people in Iraq? 

The funds raised through our Walks for Iraq will be used to help families rebuild their homes on the Nineveh Plain—around 40,000 people have now returned to their towns and villages. Churches, parish centres and presbyteries will also be repaired and rebuilt. 

As greater numbers of people return, the Church, supported through donations from ACN and others, will help to rebuild the communities that have existed in Iraq for the past 2000 years. People can sponsor our walks through our Just Giving Page. All donations--large or small--will make a huge difference! 

Since our last interview, news broke that Pope Francis will elevate Iraq's Patriarch Louis Sako to the position of Cardinal. As Cardinal-designate Sako supports the work of ACN in Iraq, how will this inspire your future efforts for Iraq's Christian community? 

We were delighted to hear that Patriarch Sako will shortly become a Cardinal; this is wonderful news for the Church in Iraq! Here at ACN NW we’ll continue to highlight the plight of Iraqi Christians, especially those who are choosing to return to their roots on the Nineveh Plain. 

Can you tell us about your next walks and how people can help? 

Our final two walks are coming up shortly. We’ll walk from Liverpool Met to Wrexham Cathedral between 6th and 8th July. 

We’ll be blessed by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon before we leave Liverpool and we’ll be stopping at St Mary of the Angels in Ellesmere Port and then with the Poor Clares in Hawarden before heading to Wrexham. 

On 14th September, Bishop Peter Brignall (Wrexham) will walk with us from his cathedral to Our Lady and the Welsh Martyrs in Overton after which we’ll head to the Poor Clares’ community in Ellesmere to stay overnight. 

Then it’s the final push to Shrewsbury Cathedral the following day. These walks are hard work and they are really pushing us out of our comfort zone, but we feel very strongly that we need to do everything we can to raise awareness and funds for our brothers and sisters in Iraq. 

We’d like to thank all those who have sponsored us already and also to ask your readers to pray for Christians and all those suffering in Iraq and to consider sponsoring us—there is still plenty of time to help us make a difference! Thank you. 

We would like to ask our readers to sponsor Caroline and Bridget, as they continue their walks for Iraq. You can do so by clicking here. You can also follow ACN NW and send them messages of support on Twitter

Images include ACN NW with Fr Philip Conner in the Catholic Chaplaincy at Lancaster University and Caroline and Bridget outside St Mary’s Church in St Helens—last stop on the way to Liverpool - credit to ACN 2018.



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