Fr Stewart Foster writes:
On a beautiful spring day about 400 or so pilgrims from the Diocese of Brentwood made their way to Our Lady’s shrine at Walsingham. Before Mass celebrated by Bishop Alan at 12 noon, priests were available for confession (especially important in this Year of Mercy). As a former Administrator of the shrine, Bishop Alan preached movingly about the role of Our Lady in the Christian life, and his words were echoed at the end of Mass by the present Rector, Monsignor John Armitage, who is a priest of our diocese.
Indeed, the facilities at the shrine, where the Slipper Chapel and the Church of the Reconciliation have recently been granted the status of a basilica by Pope Francis, are soon to undergo a multi-million pound development project designed to improve both the shrine itself and the accommodation for pilgrims and retreatants in the nearby village.
After lunch the pilgrims, led by Bishop Alan and with young people carrying the statue of Our Lady, made their way on foot and in silence to the Priory grounds in the village where Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was given by the Bishop. Next year, as part of the celebrations for the Centenary of the Diocese of Brentwood, there will be a special Pilgrimage and Mass at Walsingham on 22 July (the day on which the diocese was formally erected in 1917). It is anticipated that coaches from every parish will bring several thousand Brentwood pilgrims to Our Lady’s ‘English Nazareth’ on that day.