Walsingham 2024: Becoming “Christians of Hope”

Wednesday 8th May 2024

Hundreds of pilgrims from across the diocese made the 400-mile journey to Walsingham and back this weekend to take part in our annual diocesan pilgrimage to Our Lady’s shrine.

This year, we were delighted to once again offer the option of a two-day visit to this historic place of pilgrimage, with a number of pilgrims joining our Youth Ministry Team in the picturesque village on Friday night.

The group gathered for a peaceful Mass, led by Canon Paul Daly, before taking part in a beautiful torchlight procession.

On Saturday, the group were joined by hundreds more day pilgrims from right across the diocese, who came together in the sunny square of Friday Market for the Crowning of Mary.

Led by Fr Francis Wadsworth, the pilgrims then began their mile-long procession as all generations came together to pray the Rosary and sing hymns to Our Lady as they made their way to the Roman Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady.

Collage of photos showing procession along the Holy Mile

Free time enabled pilgrims to present their private intentions to Our Lady in the 14th-century Slipper Chapel, in addition to lighting candles and collecting Holy Water in the beautiful grounds of the Shrine, before pilgrims were invited to take part in a Service of Reconciliation.

The day came to a close with a packed-out Mass led by Bishop John, in which he invited us to reflect on how we live out our faith in our world today.

Collage of photos depicting Mass in the basilica

Christians of Hope

Bishop John began his homily by reflecting on some of the issues in our world today, from conflicts around the world, corruption in politics, the plight of refugees, and our ever deteriorating climate.

He said: “This is all very overwhelming stuff. I need to know about it but I can feel a bit overwhelmed by it all, so I need to remind myself that we are Christians of Hope.”

The bishop continued by reflecting on Pope Francis’ constant reminders that we are a people of hope, each of us with a part to play, like drops of water that work together to create a reservoir or a dam.

First photo shows youth pilgrims processing along the Holy Mile; second image shoes a young person holding diocesan candle

Reiterating that theme of mission, Bishop John called to mind the powerful reflection of St John Henry Newman, which says: “God created me to him Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me, which He has not committed to another. I have my mission.”

But Bishop John acknowledges the difficulty in discerning that mission, saying: “It’s not as if we get a letter through the post saying “This is what I’ve given you as your mission”. No, we’re on a journey and that’s where our diocesan prayer comes in “Stay with us, Lord, on our journey.”

“Because our journey can take changes in direction. It requires choices and decisions and we need to be alert to discerning our future of what God wants of us in that journey.”

The Untier of Knots

Bishop John continued his homily by drawing our attention to our ongoing Diocesan Synod, in which we seek to better understand what God is asking of the Church in our diocese today and how we are being called to respond to the various challenges we face.

Bringing this back to pilgrimage, he said: “But we’re here in Walsingham, and in Walsingham, we honour Our Lady, who is our great intercessor. She pleads for us and listens carefully to what we need to say to her so she can take what we say to her son. So, it’s invaluable that we speak to her – in ordinary language.”

Photo shows pilgrims honouring Our Lady; Second photo shows person carrying the Rosary

Referring to the popular devotion of Mary as the Untier of Knots, Bishop John invited pilgrims to bring all their cares, worries, challenges, and problems to Our Lady – the Untier of Knots – so we can better discern the path ahead and the individual mission given to each of us by God.

He said: “Let’s give thanks for the fact that we’re here in Walsingham, representing ourselves, our families, our diocese and we’re asking Mary to untie those knots that are presenting themselves to us at the moment, so that through her intercession, we may be a little bit wiser about what the Spirit is saying to us as a diocese and as individuals.

Collage of three photos: first shows woman honouring Our Lady; second photos shows a man at prayer; third image is a painting of Our Lady of Walsingham

“God bless you for the faith you have and let’s pray for one another that we may be those missionary disciples that Pope Francis is calling us to be and that we may truly be “ambassadors for Christ”, as St Paul call us, and those drops of water that really do amount to a reservoir for the good in our world today.”


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