This year's event 'To A Safer Shore?' focussed on the considerable difficulties and challenges faced by individuals and families of all ages who are compelled to leave their homes and seek safety - and longed for sanctuary - in countries that can be considerable distances from their homes.
Speakers included Canon Rob Esdaile, who provided insight on Pope Francis' Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Karen Goldsmith, who has first-hand experience of the refugee crisis, having spent time volunteering at a refugee camp in Chios, Greece, Aidan Cantwell from the Jesuit Refugee Service who explored current legislation in the UK and how best we can respond, and John Paul de Quay, from the Ecological Conversion Group, who examined the links between the plight of refugees and climate crisis.
Canon Rob Esdaile: Born in Epsom in 1961, Fr. Rob Esdaile was ordained in 1991 and has been parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, Thames Ditton, since 2006. Involved in work for justice and peace for many years, he has written materials for Peace Sunday each year since the early noughties and occasional articles and talks on a variety of themes. He is also Priest Adviser on Spirituality and Formation in A&B diocese and a (self-) published poet.
Karen Goldsmith grew up in Crawley and has lived in the Diocese all her life, apart from university in Southampton and Nottingham. She has worked in secondary education and also, over many years, for the Diocese particularly with Young People, Formation, Parish Renewal, Social Action and at the diocesan Centre, St Cuthman’s. Now retired, Karen works in support of refugees.
Aidan Cantwell: has worked for the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in the UK as Senior Operations Manager since December 2017. JRS UK works with those who have been made destitute during the asylum process, and those detained for the administration of immigration procedures. Aidan was a member of the pastoral team of A&B from 2013 to 2017, coordinating Social Action and Justice and Peace initiatives. Aidan has a passion for hospitality, one of the core values at the heart of JRS’s mission.
John Paul de Quay: runs the Ecological Conversion Group, a network of Catholics helping their Church respond to our ecological and social emergencies. Encouraged by Pope Francis’ great leadership on caring for our common home and all those who live upon it, the ECG launched their national campaign, The Journey to 2030, which aims to help our church communities join the global 2030 agenda for change, adding something special to the debate on climate and social action. John Paul has an educational background in biology and has worked for many years in illustration and graphic arts.