Amélie Davidson, MEduc2 student
The Student Pastoral Planning Team challenged School of Education students and staff to walk 10 km (at least) in a week so that, together, we could walk the 2,350 km to the Vatican (virtually!). The walk took place during the week of 4th-11th November, which was Just and Green Recovery for Scotland Week of Action. Just and Green Recovery for Scotland is a coalition of 80 organisations calling for Scotland’s recovery from Coronavirus to put people and the planet before profit such as tackling climate change, restoring Scotland’s nature and creating green jobs. The team decided to organise an awareness-raising event because in Catholic Teacher Formation class, they have been reflecting on Pope Francis’s teaching on the environment in his letter Laudato Si’ – a letter addressed to every person on the planet, asking us all to protect our common home.
For the second year running, the team also wanted to support the incredible work of Glasgow’s Spirit of Christmas, which ensures that every local child living in poverty will have a gift to wake up to on Christmas morning. The sad reality is that 1 in 5 children in Scotland and 1 in 3 in Glasgow lives in poverty. This year, Glasgow’s Spirit of Christmas has 16,500 children needing help to ensure that they wake up to a gift on Christmas morning. The expense of Christmas can be worrying for any family but this year, with the added financial strain caused by Covid-19 such as families accessing the furlough scheme or redundancies, Christmas seems even more daunting. It has been a difficult year for everyone and we have all learned the power of lending a helping hand in our community. After all, giving is the true spirit of Christmas.
The walk was a huge success and the team were completely overwhelmed by people’s support and generosity. During the week, 114 students and staff as well as pupils at St. Margaret Mary’s Secondary School walked 3,975km and raised a fantastic £3,625. The money was used to donate 75 gift bags to the PEEK (Possibilities for Each and Every Kid) Project who aim to improve opportunities for children living in poverty.
In many ways, the Virtual Vatican walk was like a pilgrimage. It provided each of us with the chance to spend time appreciating the beautiful creation around us and to re-energise mentally, physically and spiritually. The walk also gave us the opportunity to focus on what really matters and to rediscover the joy of giving and generosity.
Due to university being online just now, the Student Pastoral Planning Team were unable to organise their usual in-person events. However, this did not stop them and, thanks to Zoom and social media, lockdown has enabled the team to communicate and work together with each other more than ever before. The virus which has divided us has, in fact, brought us closer together.
During this period of uncertainty and worry for us all, it often feels easier to focus on the negatives. However, the pandemic which has shut universities, cancelled flights and turned people into teleworkers has also brought out the best in people and proved that even in dark times, kindness prevails.
In the words of Mother Teresa, “We alone cannot change the world, but we can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”