With one of the largest Direct Provision Centres situated within Julianstown Parish at Mosney, it was decided that, as a parish we should do something to reach out the hand of friendship to some of the 800 people living there. There is also a smaller centre in Laytown.
World Refugee Sunday fell on Sunday 23rd June and the parishioners decided to hold a Friendship Lunch. As one of the Mosney residents is a regular worshipper in Julianstown he invited around 30 adults and children for lunch. A few of them also came to the morning service. Likewise, one of the residents in Laytown invited some people from there and they attended the service and the lunch.
We were fortunate to receive a small grant from the local authority towards this event. Parishioners and guests enjoyed chicken, salads, chocolate brownies and strawberries and were able to chat to each other, learning a little about one another and in particular hearing some of the stories from those who have come to make their home in Ireland. Some people, although they have their paperwork and can stay in Ireland, now find that, because of the housing crisis they are remaining much longer than expected in Mosney.
There was a great deal of organisation involved in making this event happen and much hard work on the day, so all who participated, including many of our young people are to be commended for becoming involved in this. We hope it may lead to future occasions of reaching out the hand of friendship and of welcoming in the stranger.
By Rev Katharine Poulton (rector)