15th May 2015 - by Ray Collier

Fr. Ray also supports Columban lay missionaries in their ministry to asylum seekers.
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For the past number of years, in Birmingham, I have been on a journey of solidarity. It has been an experience not of deprivation and burden, but one of gift and joy.


I have found that it has been a journey primary of the ministry of listening, listening to the voice of the Spirit, as expressed in the hopes and dreams of people yearning for a sense of togetherness and belonging.

I have found that this work of solidarity was not in developing a mission and vision, instead I saw this work as listening to the agenda of people from the different cultures, faiths and nationalities that live as a community of communities in Birmingham, and making myself available to serve their agenda. My journey of solidarity was not to seize control, but to give up control and align my own hopes, dreams, joys and griefs with theirs.

At present I’m listening, particularly, to two women from the area of Alun Rock, Birmingham, one Muslim one Christian, who have a dream of gathering local voluntary groups, who are involved in a variety of activities aimed at improving social cohesion in the area; to emphasise the fact, that people are not always aware of just what is going on around them which could be mutually beneficial. Their hope is to invite members of these various voluntary organizations to a meeting, to share about themselves and their contact details so as to compile and distribute a local directory and there after have an annual catch-up get-together.

Increasingly I see many of these people from the Birmingham community of communities, are treated as a resource and commodity to serve the agenda of the powerful rather than themselves. Much of my solidarity is learning how to listen, while continuing to serve and support.