The Annual Pilgrimage of Reparation and Prayer for the Sanctity of Life took place in Walsingham on Sunday 6 October – in heavy rain. A handful of intrepid pilgrims came from the Leeds Diocese in a mini-bus. Janet Baker was there and sent this report:
Sunday 6 October had all the ingredients of a very difficult day – more than1000 pilgrims in attendance and Walsingham in the midst of a weather warning for heavy rain, surrounding roads experiencing flooding, the Holy Mile impassable in some places causing the procession into the village to be cancelled, and Bishop Mark O’Toole unwell and unable to attend at the last minute.
Our Holy Mother did not let us down! With vigorous encouragement from Mgr Armitage of the National Catholic Shrine, delivered in his own inimitable style, we ‘offered it all up’ in Reparation. The outcome was a very blessed day with pilgrims in good spirits enjoying something of an adventure.
The team at the Shrine worked tirelessly all day, to help and encourage where necessary. There was not room in the Chapel of Reconciliation for everyone to attend Mass there, but sitting outside was not an option (except for a few hardy souls who chose to do so). Fortunately, most others were able to squeeze into the two ‘welcome’ halls where they shared in the Mass through a live stream. It was regrettable that the sound failed in one of the halls, but the Mass is now available on the Walsingham website if anyone who missed it would like to watch it in full. Communion was brought from the Chapel.
Mgr Armitage delivered Bishop Mark O’Toole’s homily which began by referring to a recent visit to Africa, a country where the coming of the Gospel brought a new respect for humanity.
‘At every Mass the people sing an anthem to the Gospel:
“Praise to the Gospel for it brought us education,
praise to the Gospel for it showed us that girls could be educated,
praise to the Gospel for it taught us to accept twins,
praise to the Gospel for it taught us to recognise the dignity of every human being..”. – and so on….’.
He reminded us of the far reaching effects of the 1967 Abortion Act which has led to more than 8 million abortions in this country.
‘In the face of such a relentless pursuit of death dealing, we can sometimes feel overwhelmed. This is where the parable of today’s Gospel and the example of the mustard seed should give us courage. Our faith may seem small but the Lord does not abandon us. He can bring an abundant fruitfulness out of the smallest beginnings.’
He encouraged us to continue to strive for the cause of Life, looking to the Church, to the Gospel and to Our Lady for strength and wisdom:
‘In this holy place, we recall the holy house of Nazareth, where Mary showed she was open to the Gospel of Life, as she gave a home for The Word of God to become flesh and to be born into our world’.
The pilgrimage programme continued in the afternoon beginning with the Stations of the Cross, followed by Adoration. The exception was that at the point we would have walked into the village, everyone returned to their coaches to be taken to the coach park, also underwater in some parts. This pilgrimage has taken place annually for 35 years and this was the first time we have had to do this!
We were able to walk down from the coach park through the village and pray in the Abbey grounds under clearing skies: a final gift at the end of the day. Walking back to the coaches afterwards pilgrims were overheard commenting on what a good day it had been, and on the numbers that had attended; later we heard one pilgrim remark that it was the best pilgrimage he had ever been on! We were very blessed.
This year coaches came from Leeds, Kent, Central and East London, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire. Next year the pilgrimage takes place on Sunday 27 September 2020, and will be led by Bishop Marcus Stock, the Bishop of Leeds.
Full details will be available via the website: http://www.prolifepilgrimage.org/