Catholic National Shrine Of Our Lady Welcomes Annual East Anglia Children’s Pilgrimage To Walsingham

Around 600 children and parents joined the Diocese of East Anglia’s annual Children’s Pilgrimage to Walsingham on 28th May, led by Bishop Peter Collins.

The pilgrimage, attended by young pilgrims from all around the Diocese, including Norfolk, Suffolk, Peterborough, and Cambridgeshire, began at 10.45am in Friday Market Place, outside the Church of the Annunciation in the Walsingham village, where they were welcomed by Bishop Peter Collins.

The pilgrimage began with a procession along the old railway line, known as the Pilgrim Way, leading to the Walsingham Shrine. Fr Pat Cleary led the procession, with some of the children taking turns carrying a miniature statue of Our Lady of Walsingham. The pilgrims paused periodically for prayers along the way. Upon reaching the Walsingham Shrine, some of the young pilgrims greeted the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham with flower petals.

The day culminated with the Mass celebrated by Bishop Peter Collins, and in his homily, the Bishop addressed the pilgrims, saying, “Now you’ve come from all over and you’re different ages for our children’s pilgrimage today. And it’s a joy to see you all.”

He spoke about the significance of Walsingham, often referred to as England’s Nazareth. “The revelation that was given many centuries ago was that there should be a holy house, a place that reminded us where Mary grew up at Nazareth 2,000 years ago. And with Joseph then, Mary would care for her son, Jesus,” he explained.

Bishop Collins further elaborated on the family life of Mary and Joseph: “Mary and Joseph had to create their own house because Mary grew up with her parents. We give them the names Joachim and Anne. We don’t know anything about them really. But tradition gives us those names. And they nurtured Mary when she was a little child. And all of us, all of us, need our mum and dad and all the other members of our families to help us to grow.”

He then addressed the challenges of growing up, stating: “Growing up is hard work, isn’t it? Not only in terms of going to school, but there’s so much to learn, so much to do. How many of you are very good at your chores at home? If I were to come to your houses and you invited me to visit your own room, would it be in good order? Or would it be a complete mess?

“If you came and you have a messy room, that’ll be three Hail Marys for you,” he joked.

Bishop Collins also emphasized the importance of prayer and doing good. “In our readings from scripture today, we are told to do all that is good, all that is right, to be caring for each other, and to pray. And it is when we pray that we find the strength to do what is good and what is right. And when we pray, we learn how to care for each other,” he said.

He encouraged families to create a prayerful environment at home. “I hope, mums and dads too, brothers and sisters all, I hope that as families you will pray. That your homes will be homes of prayer. Just like Joachim and Anne taught their daughter Mary to pray at Nazareth. And how Mary and Joseph, with Jesus, who was God in our midst, they prayed together.”

After the Mass, there was the opportunity for attendees to enjoy packed lunches.

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Diocese of East Anglia Children's Pilgrimage, Walsingham Shrine, May 2024