I had to launch a boat in order to tackle the couch grass that had invaded the pond!
Saturday, 16 May 2015
The renewal of the Shrine at Walsingham is to include the provision of facilities for retreats and conferences. This will enable a tremendous development of the Shrine. Many times I have wished to take groups to Walsingham for a retreat or period of formation, but the lack of a place to meet together has always weighed against this. It will soon be possible for conferences and retreats to be envisaged.
This is particularly important when one recognises that the basic nature of England's Nazareth is that it is a shrine to the family. Christian formation at the level of the family lies at the heart of the renewal of the Church in this country.
Walsingham has an extraordinary place in this context. The many thousands of people who visit the shrine each year, whether as Diocesan, Parish or association groups, all have their family ties, and many of them come as family groups. The shrine has an organic potential to help to nurture the Christian family, having at its centre the house of the Holy Family of Nazareth. The whole sense and environment of the family is one which can easily be engendered and honoured at Walsingham, enabling particular formation to be given within the context of a visit to the shrine.
This can be done at all levels: young people considering marriage and the family, newly married spouses, young families, families with teenagers, extended families, and grandparents. In each case, there can be a particular ministry, directed to honouring the evangelisation already taking place within families, and equipping them even more in their mission.
It is particularly the case that many older people come to Walsingham, often from families that no longer practice the Christian life, yet a visit to Walsingham can be the place where a whole life-time of prayer and evangelisation on behalf of their families can be acknowledged, witnessed to and honoured.
Families themselves could be drawn into the mission of the Shrine, becoming agents of family formation in Walsingham. Other Institutes and bodies in the country could also, perhaps, feed into the mission of the Shrine, for example, the new School of the Annunciation, whose mission is already so closely identified with that of Walsingham.
Again, the renewal of the Shrine at Walsingham is something which calls for our attention and our support.
Sunday, 3 May 2015
When I was a teenager in the 1970s there was a nationwide campaign, led by the Director of the Shrine, Fr Roland Connelly, to develop the Shrine and place it more at the centre of the life of the Church in England. The most obvious consequences of this campaign were the number of parish pilgrimages that came to Walsingham, particularly from the northern half of the country, and the replacement of the open-sided hexagonal outdoor chapel with the Norfolk-barn style Chapel of Reconciliation.
Today, a new and fuller project has begun to develop the Shrine again so that it can be at the heart of the New Evangelisation of this country. I commend and applaud Mgr John Armitage for his vision for the next stage of the renewal and building up of the Shrine. The basis of this project can be seen on the new webpage: www.walsinghamdevelopment.org
This project will involve both new buildings and a renewed schedule for pilgrims. But at its heart is a great vision for the Shrine - a vision to develop the welcome that is extended to pilgrims and their formation in the life and mission of the Church.
I will post on this again soon.