Palm Sunday Gathering A Show of Support for Refugees

By John Murphy

Palm Sunday 2022 marked a return to people of faith and good-will, gathering to promote Bendigo and Australia as a welcoming and just community; calling on our parliament to replace cruel practices of exclusion and detention with a compassionate and supportive welcome to those who flee to us for sanctuary.


Speakers from Catholic, Anglican and Uniting Churches as well as from the Interfaith Council, Amnesty, Grandmothers for Refugees and Rural Australians for Refugees spoke of the hardships faced by refugee communities, either in Australian detention or struggling to get family out of war-torn danger and oppression.


These calls are now echoed in the Australian Bishops statement for the 2022 election which calls for a just, humane and timely system for assessing claims for asylum. This prophetic statement calls to heart Proverbs 31:8-9. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.


The gathering was a family-focused affair, with inclusive activities for children, and music and dance from the Karen community.


As members of the body of Christ we are reminded by St Teresa of Avila that “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, Yours are the eyes through which to look out”.


Each Palm Sunday we are reminded that, all through the year, we are called on to be Christ’s body, hands, feet, eyes and mouth to bring justice and compassion to our brothers and sisters. Year by year, and all through the year, we are called to build up parish participation and support for refugees and all those in need.

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Participants at the Rally built a wall of boxes, which was then pulled down and converted to a table for the sharing of bread. 

 

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Members of the Local Karen Community share music, song and dance at the event.
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The gathering was a family-focused affair, which encouarged children's participation through activities and many people stayed for the BYO picnic.  Approximately 100 people from various church communities attended the vent.  
The gathering was addressed by representatives of the COGB, the three advocacy groups, The Inter-Faith Council, and the Anglican Bishop. Dean Elizabeth coordinated the program.
 
An open letter to the PM was signed by 42 people, and two petitions also received good support.