Trust, hope, and mission at heart of Walsingham homilyThursday 25th May 2023
The sun shone down on hundreds of pilgrims who travelled from across our diocese to Our Lady’s shrine at Walsingham at the weekend.
More than 500 people gathered in the historic village on Saturday 20th May to take part in our annual homage to Our Lady at the shrine in Norfolk.
This year, we welcomed a number of pilgrims for our first overnight stay at Walsingham, who marked the occasion with a beautiful torchlight procession on Friday evening.
They were joined by our Salford Youth Ministry team, who accompanied more than 20 secondary-school pilgrims for a special youth pilgrimage.
On Saturday, hundreds more pilgrims from across the diocese joined the group, which gathered in Friday Market in preparation for the mile-long procession to the Catholic Shrine.
Fr Callum Brown, our Diocesan Spiritual Director for the pilgrimage, began the procession with a prayer before leading the crowd along the picturesque route towards the Catholic shrine, singing hymns to Our Lady and reciting the Rosary.
Arriving at the shrine, home to the famous Slipper Chapel, pilgrims could take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation before Bishop John and diocesan clergy celebrated Mass at the Basilica.
In his homily, Bishop John paid tribute to Our Lady as “the first and the best of the disciples”, reminding us of the apostles’ tumultuous journey from Palm Sunday to Pentecost, and the call to trust in God’s unique mission for us.
Referring to Jesus’ mandate at the Ascension to “proclaim the Gospel to all nations”, Bishop John said: “The disciples must have thought, ‘No, this isn’t going to happen, is it? There’s 11 of us, most of us are illiterate, Hebrew-speaking fishermen, and you’re telling us to go out to the whole of the Roman Empire and beyond, and baptise and preach? We’re just not up to it.’
“But Jesus says ‘I’ll be with you always, and I’m going to send the Advocate to guide you in all that you do.’
“And they have that trust, and faced with the enormous impossibility of the task He’s given to them, they get on with it.
“And at Pentecost, they are inspired and they are able – step by step – to begin that ridiculous task of bringing the Good News to all around them.”
Bishop John reminds us that, as we approach Pentecost this weekend, we too are called to trust in the Spirit and how He calls us to respond to the needs in our world today; from war and corruption, to poverty and climate change.
Despite the gravity of the challenges we face today, we are called to trust that we are not alone, that through the Spirit, we too will find the strength to take up our mission to proclaim the Gospel in our world today.
Turning to Our Lady, Bishop John encouraged us all to have hope in the example of Mary, saying: “Although she’d been so distressed to see His suffering on the cross, she knew that was not the end, that there was a greater plan and He would succeed.
“So, let’s stay with Mary as the best of the disciples. Let’s have her trust and her confidence, and let’s look to her as the Untier of Knots.
“Let’s recognise who we are and the importance of the mission that each of us has and then step out, in faith, with confidence, that we can make the world a better place.”