Helping Walsingham

Our September Pilgrims have just returned from the shrine of Walsingham in Norfolk, and totally by coincidence the Bishops of England and Wales have asked that a one-off collection be taken over this weekend to assist the ancient shrine founded in the eleventh century. The feast of Our Lady of Walsingham is on September 24. The fund is to create facilities to cater for the increasing numbers of pilgrims who have been making pilgrimages there in recent times. Last year the shrine launched a large appeal. It is hoped this will pay for upgrading buildings, with a new cloister, refectory, conference and retreat centre, and new accommodation for the disabled, and will also focus on developing the work of the shrine.

The project is presently completing restoration of the Shrine in the Slipper Chapel and has started live-streaming daily Mass from the Chapel of Reconciliation. Accommodation will be developed in the second year, with new bedrooms added to the existing Elmham House and a new retreat centre built in the village. Further developments to the shrine site will take place in the third year, including a new cloister and gate house.

A Catholic media centre will broadcast talks, interviews and apologetics programmes Mgr John Armitage, the rector of Walsingham, whom we met in Walsingham said “The programmes… will reflect the experience of the Church on this side of the Atlantic, and in particular look to expand programming for young people, and this will be undertaken by young adults from the UK. In using the latest technology and social media, this new project will look to give people an experience of their Catholic faith, ‘ever ancient – ever new’. The use of media in the spread of the Gospel is strongly encouraged by the Church… in its work for the new evangelization.” In addition, the new retreat centre will be called the Dowry Retreat, and run by a new religious community. “It will be open to all, but a particular focus will be on young adults.”

Fr Matthew incl extracts from the Tablet and Catholic Herald

Serving Jesus in the poor and the needy

This 25th Sunday, the Church enjoins us to reflect on our attitude towards money, material things and our relationship with the poor and marginalized. If there is anything that has perpetuated poverty all over the world, it is injustice and inequality in the social class. Hence, Amos in today’s first reading decries the injustices meted out against the poor of the land. He wrote at a time when the rich took all the land, enslaved the poor in their farm lands, and exported food that could have been used to feed the entire citizens because of their gains in foreign currencies. The same situation menaces us today. If we look around we see poverty and the poor all around us. Sometimes the excuse we give to exonerate ourselves from the injustice they suffer is that , “they are lazy and not hard working!”I do not buy this opinion in-toto. Rather, a majority of them are where they are because of our greed and selfishness.
This is why Paul implores us to pray for everyone especially, Kings, Rulers, Leaders and all those In- charge. This prayer is necessary to pray for conversion because, once we are converted we eschew corruption, injustice, greed and oppression of the poor from our system. Once we understand this then, selfishness and egocentrism will disappear. We shall no longer think of ourselves alone to the detriment of others. We shall begin to consider the common interest and good of all. In the gospel, Jesus brings to light the fact that money and material things do not last forever, and therefore advises us on how to make use of them without losing our salvation. “The best way to invest,” a saying goes, “is to invest in human beings, especially the poor”. We should therefore learn from St Lawrence the martyr, patron of the poor and cooks, who presented to the Prefect of Rome fifteen hundred poor people he maintained as the Church’s treasure, instead of silver and gold. Therefore, we are not to manipulate the poor and needy for economic gains. Jesus Christ who is their defender will surely fight their course because of the injustices meted out on them. He has sacrificed himself for humanity, the poor inclusive, and therefore any form of injustice or oppression of the poor or weak as Amos decries will cry out to Jesus for vengeance as the blood of Abel did from the earth against Cain.

September Pilgrims 2016

By the time you are reading this, our annual September Pilgrimage group will be in Norfolk, where the centre of this year’s visit is to the English National shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham. However, like every other of the 25 years the group has travelled, we are visiting other places of spiritual or cultural (or fun) interest too!

We arrived on Friday at King’s Lynn, where we are staying for the week. On Saturday we visit Norwich, for Mass in the Catholic cathedral and a visit to the Norman Anglican cathedral and city, and especially to the shrine of Dame Julian of Norwich, the famous medieval mystic. On Sunday we visit the pretty seaside resort of Wells-next-the Sea. After Mass and a stroll around, we move on to the local stately home, Holkham Hall.

Monday finds us at the heart of our pilgrimage – at Walsingham itself. We will join the other pilgrims for midday Mass at the modern Reconciliation Church next to the Slipper Chapel, and visit the other beautiful places of interest and spiritual tradition. On Tuesday we visit the world famous university city of Cambridge. There we will see some of the sights, including King’s College Chapel, home of the famous Christmas Carol Service. We will join the community at the Catholic University Chaplaincy, Fisher House, for Mass with the Chaplain, who will also speak to us about St John Fisher, former Chancellor of the University and martyr with St Thomas More.

On Wednesday we spend time, including Mass, at the traditional resort of Hunstanton, before checking out the Queen’s country retreat at Sandringham. On our last day we go to the small cathedral city of Ely, where we will combine Mass at the local Catholic church with a visit to the second great Norman cathedral on our pilgrimage. This is dominated by its marvel of medieval architecture and engineering, the Octagon, built when the central tower collapsed.

As always, our outward pilgrimage will hopefully lead us to the real, inner journey, where, with the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham and saints like John Fisher and Julian of Norwich, we will draw just a little closer to the Father of Mercy and his Redeemer Son. We will be praying for all your intentions.

Fr Matthew