St. Teresa of Calcutta was not only the lead school at this year’s “Walk with Christ: Justice for the Poor” Pilgrimage, but the inspiration for the 3,000 students and staff from the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board who set out from Cathedral High School on October 16th on an 8-kilometre walk to end world poverty.
Quoting St. Teresa of Calcutta, who was canonized in Rome on Sept. 4th, Director of Education David Hansen said, “We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”
Hansen added it’s not enough to learn about justice in the classroom; words and ideas must be translated into action and concrete activity on behalf of the poor and those suffering from injustice.
“And today, we do this. We walk. We go out together and we offer our drop into the ocean of hopelessness and it makes a difference – one person, one house, one village at a time.”
“Have no doubt that as we do what we do today, you are not walking for, but with the people of Haiti, the D.R., and Uganda.”
Since the “Walk with Christ: Justice for the Poor” Pilgrimage was begun in 2003, the board has raised more than $600,000 for development projects in Haiti, Uganda and the Dominican Republic. The funds have been used to build homes, schools and orphanages, purchase medical and school supplies, and support infrastructure in the Developing South.
Chairperson Pat Daly, in words of greeting at the pilgrimage kick-off mass, thanked the many committee members, teachers, principals and staff who have contributed to the pilgrimage over the past 13 years, calling it “a gift to students and to our Catholic education system.”
In a special salute to the students, he noted that the theme of the pilgrimage, “Walk with Christ,” is reflective of what they do by celebrating the Eucharist and participating in the ‘Walk with Christ.’
“But we, as trustees, have an opportunity to see you ‘Walk with Christ’ every day in your academics, spiritual works, and co-curricular activities,” said Daly.
“Everything you do is ultimately a walk with our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Describing life as a pilgrimage, presiding celebrant Bishop Douglas Crosby said, “whenever we set out on a journey we know we will learn something about ourselves, about others, and about life.”
He added that not only does pilgrimage provide time to pray, talk and think, but it requires that people watch out for each other. That teaches persistence.
Life can be tough, he said. If you’re persistent “that will help you on your journey and help you to experience the fullness of life that is God.”
Blessing the students as they headed out to Wentworth Street for the start of their pilgrimage, Bishop Crosby reminded them, “And you, you watch out for others.”
One way they watch out for others is through financial support. This year's pilgrimage is hoped to raise $40,000. The funds will not only improve living conditions for people in Haiti, Uganda and the D.R., but will support emergency relief efforts in Haiti in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
The pilgrimage departed from Cathedral High School south along Wentworth Street to the escarpment rail trail, continued through the woods to the mountain brow, and travelled along Mohawk Road to St. Anthony Daniel Catholic Elementary School for a total distance of 8 kilometres.