On Saturday, 25 September, the day before the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Bishop Paul McAleenan led a service of reflection and prayer on the seafront in Dover.
Organised by Seeking Sanctuary, an organisation that raises awareness of the plight of migrants and refugees near our sea borders, the group gathered at noon to pray at the Migrants Memorial on the front. At the site there is a plaque commemorating the many victims who have lost their lives seeking sanctuary in the UK. It also carries the words of Pope Francis: “Every migrant has a name, a face, and a story.”
Many boats and dinghies carrying migrants have attempted to cross the English Channel – one of the most dangerous and busiest shipping lanes in the world.
Bishop McAleenan recorded a short reflection after the service:
“We are by the seaside at Dover, looking out across the calm waters. Even though the waters are calm, we consider those who are on stormy seas at the moment, those who are seeking refuge, perhaps even on these waters a few miles away.
“The World Day for Migrants and Refugees is an annual event that is celebrated in cathedrals and churches all over the world. But today, because of the prominence that Dover has in the life of migration, and as a destination point for migrants in England, we have assembled here at this place.
“We remember as we look at the memorial, the words of Pope Francis, ‘every migrant has a name, a face and a story’. And we gather here to pray for them. And we remember, of course, those who never reached this place – never reached what they considered the ‘promised land’ of the United Kingdom.”