Bishop Alan joined Fr Mark Reilly at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Wickford for the Rededication of England as Mary’s Dowry and the Rosary at 12 noon on Sunday 29 March, an event that was followed by parishioners via the parish’s live-stream. Meanwhile at other parishes around the Diocese, similar events were taking place. At Walsingham House at Abbotswick, for example, Fr Dominic reports that “more than 180 people were watching/praying – more when we add in that several families were watching on the same screen. And it snowed at 11.58! An ancient sign of Our Lady’s presence, and rather dramatic.”
And elsewhere in the diocese, the country and the world many people said the same prayers, dedicating themselves to the guidance and protection of Our Lady.
Over 500,000 people took part through Walsingham live streaming
The Walsingham Shrine, where our own Mgr John Armitage is Rector, reports that more than 500,000 people took part through its live streaming facility, with many more doing it at home at other times of the day.
“Three years ago the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales fixed the date to rededicate England as the Dowry of Mary for the 29 March. It was originally to have taken place in all cathedrals and churches but the Covid-19 lockdown made that impossible. Instead, a rededication ceremony was livestreamed from The Walsingham Catholic National Shrine in Norfolk and people could connect to it to carry out their own personal dedication from home.
The Walsingham site crashed because of the sheer numbers trying to access it and soon after the churchservices.tv stream also crashed. Viewers were asked to switch to YouTube to watch The Rededication there. Throughout the day the liturgy was repeated by bishops in their cathedrals, priests alone in their churches and families and individuals at home.
Before the Coronavirus pandemic, communities were encouraged to sign up to The Rededication map on the official website, and 299 churches, schools and organisations signed up, including all cathedrals. As the coronavirus made it impossible to gather in these places, an individual sign up was made possible so that The Rededication could be celebrated at home and 2057 individual sign ups were made. A map of these can be found in www.behold2020.com.
In a message sent prior to the ceremony Pope Francis said that he “prays that the act of rededication will inspire all to persevere in the urgent task of sharing the joy of the Gospel with the men and women of our times. As they strive to bear witness to the beauty of our Catholic faith, to promote unity between Christians and to proffer the merciful love of Jesus to the poorest of our brothers and sisters,” he encourages them “to draw wisdom and strength from the example and intercession of the country’s many confessors and martyrs.”
In his homily after The Rededication ceremony, Mgr John Armitage, Rector of The Catholic National Shrine, said, “When our bishops decided three years ago to undertake this rededication, they could never have foreseen the extent of our need at this time. Today we undertake this dedication in the ‘eye of the storm’. We have long pondered and treasured the words of Pope Leo XIII to an earlier generation of Bishops: ‘When England returns to Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England.’ In the hour of our need Our Blessed Mother has indeed returned to England!”
Cardinal Nichols said on Twitter: “Today is the day we rededicate ourselves to Our Blessed Lady. This act of dedication asks of us to make a gift of ourselves to her. We ask for her protection, her mantle of love cast over us and our nations,” and uploaded a video of himself making The Rededication at home.”
Bishop Alan wrote on the Walsingham website:
“‘God so loved the world that he sent his only Son’ (John 3.16) – the love of a mother is so easily filled with the grace of God yet the mother of Jesus was also his greatest disciple. Mary’s faith is the perfect response to God’s good news of salvation.
I pray that, despite our hardness of heart and so many obstacles, Mary’s courage and example will redirect our gaze towards her Son – ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith’ (Hebrews 12.2). Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.”