Pontefract for Faith and Freedom
23rd November 2017
On Wednesday 22nd November, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Pontefract, along with cathedrals, churches and schools across the country, from Inverness to Bournemouth and from Wrexham to Norwich, lit up red in a sign of solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world.
The #RedWednesday campaign was established in 2016 by the charity Aid to the Church in Need in order to highlight the problem of Christian persecution, as well as injustices perpetrated against other faith groups, and to promote faith and tolerance in society. The initiative’s coordinator, Patricia Hatton said: '#RedWednesday is a unique opportunity to stand up for faith and freedom in this country and around the world and to shine a light on the persecution of Christians and other faith groups today.'
St Joseph’s church was lit up at dusk on Wednesday 22nd and through the night until Thursday morning. Children from the two schools in the parish, St Joseph at Pontefract and Holy Family & St Michael on Cobblers Lane came to school wearing red clothing as they joined in this act of solidarity and witness. This was especially so when they celebrated school Masses with their parish priest, Fr Simon Lodge. The Masses were offered for suffering Christians around the world and were in honour of all the holy Martyrs of the Faith.
'Our children are growing up in a very polarised world in which unscrupulous governments, groups and individuals pit us against each other,” said Fr Simon. 'This act of witness is an act of faith and solidarity and an expression of our belief in Christ’s power to transform hearts and minds. We want our young people to be aware of this from an early age so that as they grow older they can use their learning and experiences to challenge directly everything and everyone that seeks to persecute, undermine and destroy true faith in God. The children understand that this is a small act, but it’s a start and they understand that it’s infinitely better than remaining silent.'
Text and photograph courtesy of Hannah Jones, St Joseph's, Pontefract