On 15 May 2013 more than 250 nuns, monks, friars, priests and bishops from across the UK travelled to London to lobby their MPs, to demand that the government take action to end global hunger. Many of those at this lobby have worked and lived in developing countries, and seen first hand the effects of hunger. Among the religious in attendance were Fr Charles Ramsay, Sr Vianney Connolly and Sr Gwyn Richards who are all based in North Wales, and have been key campaigners and supporters of Justice and Peace for many years.
This is what Sr Vianney Connolly had to say about the day:
“We are young, we are old, in your world our lives unfold…” these words are playing over and over in my mind since singing them in the Methodist Central Hall on Wednesday, 15 May – stage one of the Hunger Lobby in Westminster by Religious, Priests and lay Associates. A blast of torrential rain had greeted Sr. Gwyn and me as we left our house in North Wales at 6.45am, but in London the rain was gentle and the temperature mild. Later the sun emerged and we felt invigorated in our campaign to tackle the root causes of hunger in the world.
“Our lives unfold” resonated with me not just because the tune sat in my consciousness but because one of the facts that disturbs me deeply and sits on my conscience is that every 12 seconds a child dies of problems related to malnutrition- these lives just don’t unfold. And those who survive have minds and bodies damaged and stunted. So that was my main reason for travelling to London and was why we were eager to lobby our MPs ahead of the G8 Summit in June, when David Cameron will hold the Presidency and the accompanying influence at the decision-making table.
Alyn and Deeside MP, Mark Tami, came to meet Sr. Gwyn and me and invited us to talk over a cup of tea in the Pugin Room, overlooking the Thames. As we voiced our concerns and hopes I thought how blessed we are in the UK to have these opportunities for speaking up on behalf of those whose voices are never heard. And when we returned to the great hall in the Houses of Parliament, where we filled in our evaluation forms of our lobbying, focussed on Nutrition, Tax and Transparency, a feeling of awe came over me because it was in this very Hall that St. Thomas More, Chancellor of England, was condemned to death for following his conscience!
We returned to the Methodist Central Hall, minus the banners that had been carried aloft on our outward journey from the Hall in the corner of Parliament Square to the Houses of Parliament and St Stephen’s door. They bore either a slogan, “Enough Food for Everyone“ or a prayer, “Give Us Today Our Daily Bread”. On the reverse we had written boldly our home town and the name of our Religious family. It had been a sea of banners. The day closed with an Evening Prayer accompanied by trumpet, clarinet and guitar. A few short speeches followed as Cafod had worked alongside Church Action on Poverty, Christian Aid and Progressio.
My overwhelming emotion as the 5.10pm train carried me homewards in bright sunlight was tremendous gratitude to the Cafod staff who had in a masterly but quiet way organised the day. From their warm-hearted welcome to their cup of tea at departure time they had been everywhere present in a friendly “family” way, creating an atmosphere of trust and joy. Thank you.