In a recent interview with Catherine Utley, the former communications director of the Ordinariate, the newly-appointed rector of the Roman Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham, Mgr. John Armitage, said the following:
“… part of the strong history of the Catholic Church in this country is the Church pre-Reformation and Walsingham sits at the centre of that history, and I think what’s happened over the years is that that period of our Catholic story has not been as strong in the consciousness of Catholics in England …
I think that, just by its very name, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham brings the knowledge of Walsingham to a much higher plane among Catholics. I was delighted when I heard that it was going to take the title ‘of Our Lady of Walsingham’ because I think that just having the title can – and does – help. Obviously, among Catholics of the Ordinariate, devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham has been there as very much part of their history and so this devotion of Ordinariate members can strengthen the general understanding because, although Walsingham is the National Shrine, the majority of people would probably not appreciate that it’s the National Shrine. They may know that it’s the National Shrine, but they may not know why it’s the National Shrine and so I think that the Ordinariate can make a big contribution and I am very grateful, as the new Rector, for the great devotion of the members of the Ordinariate to this great pilgrim site in honour of the Mother of God. …
The message of Walsingham is very clear. It’s around the Annunciation. Our Lady said ‘come and remember what happened in Nazareth and remember the Annunciation’. The whole event of the Annunciation is: the word became flesh and lived among us and that is not a ‘niche story’, so to speak. People can’t say: ‘I’m not into Walsingham’. That’s not what it’s about. Our Lady is pointing, not to herself, but, as always, to her son. …
The fact that Our Lady took the trouble to appear to Richeldis in this part of our country is such a great honour and all the great titles that flow from that – of Walsingham being ‘England’s Nazareth’, of England becoming ‘Mary’s dowry’ – have their roots in Walsingham. Come to Walsingham!”
To demonstrate and to promote the Ordinariate’s close relationship with Walsingham and the Shrine, the Coventry Ordinariate Mission has recently founded a branch of the Walsingham Association in Coventry (which is open not only to the Ordinariate but to all local Catholics), and a second Ordinariate group is known to be on the verge of founding a branch of the Association in their area too.
So what is the Walsingham Association and why might it be something for each of us?
On the Association’s website you can read:
The Walsingham Association exists primarily to spread devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham and encourage pilgrimage to her Shrine. Founded in 1933, the Association now has some 50 branches throughout the UK, which new members are most welcome to join, or you may become one of the many individual members of the Association.
Membership is open to all who have a devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham and offers the following:
- Members share in Daily Masses at the Shrine
- Members share in Special Masses offered for them and their families at the Shrine each quarter
- Members unite in the daily prayers of all members throughout the year
- Members of branches of the Association share in the various local spiritual activities
- Deceased members share in a Mass said each year in November in Walsingham
- Members receive quarterly newsletters
- Members may participate in local, regional and national events such as the Annual Retreat, Pilgrimages, etc.
- Members receive a Membership Certificate and Prayer Card
Where it is practical to form a branch of the Walsingham Association, we Ordinaraite Catholics should seriously consider doing so. And those who live some distance from groups, especially those living on the Continent or elsewhere overseas, might want to take up individual membership.
Membership forms are available here
The appropriate form should be printed out and sent to:
The National Secretary
The Walsingham Association
The Pilgrim Bureau
Friday Market Place
Norfolk NR22 6EG