Centenary Pilgrim Altar Cloth

The Columban Centenary Pilgrim Altar Cloth is made up of 16 sections and has been signed by Columbans, lay missionaries, coworkers, supporters and friends in each country where Columbans work. It will be going to every country where there are Columbans as part of the celebrations of the Centenary Year.

The Cloth covered the altar at the 25 November 2017 Mass in Birmingham to open the Centenary Year and will do so again at the 30 June Mass in Southwark Cathedral to close the Centenary Year in Britain. Signatures on the British section included parishioners of St. Mary’s parish in Harborne, the religious of Birmingham Diocese, Columban friends attending a Laudato Si Day in Sheffield, and members of the National Justice and Peace Network such as Pax Christi.

The Cloth symbolises 100 years of Columban mission by sharing Gospel Joy under the patronage of St. Columban. We hope that the symbolism and the effort which went into the making of this cloth will inspire many other people in our missionary zones to reflect on Christ’s mission and to support the Columban manner of that mission. The Cloth brings together the unity and diversity of the Society: missionary situations identified by the names of the countries and a diversity of language seen on the cloth.
The pilgrim journey of the Centenary Altar Cloth began in Dalgan Park, Navan, home to Columban Missionaries in Ireland on November 23, 2017, and is making its way through all the Columban missions until it reaches its destination in Chile on November 23, 2018.

 The Symbolism of the Centenary Pilgrim Altar Cloth
This Centenary Altar Cloth celebrates our coming together around the same Eucharist table. Whether we celebrate in great cathedrals or in small barrio chapels or on a quiet hillside, we share in the One Bread and partake of the same Cup of Blessing. It is a tangible religious symbol of the Columban missionary journey in which we are all called to partake. It brings us together, rouses a response, and creates conversation.
The Centenary Pilgrim Altar Cloth reminds us that no one is excluded from the table of the Lord. The Centenary cloth represents the Columban Society’s reaching out to greet migrants, our engaging with other cultures and religions in interfaith dialogue, and our welcoming the poor and marginalised to our table.
The arrival of the Centenary Altar Cloth in our community or parish is an invitation to give thanks for the Story of Columban Mission and for our connection with the work of Columbans throughout the world. It is a time of prayer and recollection. It is a time for remembering faces, names, places, and events as we tell our stories and recognise the Hand of God in it all. It is a time for looking forward and praying that others will come forward to take the Centenary Pilgrim Altar Cloth into the next chapter of Columban life.

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