Ordinariate Pilgrimage to Walsingham

The following is adapted from two reports on the UK Ordinariate website:

On Saturday 27th June 2015, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham went on Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Walsingham.

The day began with Sprinkling in the Anglican Shrine where we were welcomed by the Shrine Priest Fr Stephen Gallagher, and the Catholic Rector Mgr John Armitage.

Fr David Waller, Chairman of the Governing Council of the Ordinariate, preached a short homily before Sprinkling.

The whole company then processed to the Slipper Chapel and the Catholic Shrine whilst reciting the Rosary.

After lunch, Mass was celebrated in the Chapel of Reconciliation. Mgr Keith Newton, the Ordinary was the principal celebrant and gave the homily. Many Ordinariate priests concelebrated the mass.

At the Offertory Mgr Newton read out the Notice of Erection of the Sisters of Our Lady of Reconciliation as a Public Association of the Faithful within the Ordinariate in anticipation of their establishment as an Institute of Religious Life once there are sufficient sisters. Sister Wendy Renate and Sr Jane Louise then renewed their Religious Vows before the Ordinary. Not only did this commit Sister Wendy and Sister Jane to the Religious Life in the Ordinariate, but also acknowledged their former life as members of the Society of Saint Margaret in their Anglican days. It was fitting on this occasion that we were joined by Revd Mother Theresa and Sister Angela SSM.

(A special feature of the day was that the Ordinariate was joined by some Melkite Christians. This meant that the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite was celebrated in the Chapel of the Reconciliation at Noon, followed by a celebration of the Melkite Rite, which was in turn followed by the Ordinariate Use! Three different Catholic liturgies celebrated in succession in about four hours – a historical first!)

It was a splendid day and many blessings were received.

…and now my own personal pilgrimage story:

After officially retiring from the teaching profession on Thursday afternoon, I left home on Friday morning for my pilgrimage to Walsingham and into a new phase of my life.

Like last year I had arranged to join the Folkestone Ordinariate group in their minibus, the main difference being that this year I had arranged to spend Friday night in a cheap and cheerful hotel on the seafront and thus did not need to sleep in my car or get washed and dressed in the early hours of Saturday in the church hall.

So I took the ferry from Dunkirk at 6 p.m., checked into my hotel in Folkestone at about 9.30 p.m. and still had time to reconnoiter my route to Our Lady Help of Christians Church for the following morning before going to bed.

When I arrived at 6.45 a.m. the minibus was standing ready as were Fathers Stephen Bould and Jamie Houghton, and most of the passengers were already on board. Father Jamie would be accompanying us today as Father Stephen was inundated with work, including participation in the civic service for Armed Forces Day.

So off we went in beautiful sunshine, a motley crew of Ordinariate members, Filipino Catholics from a neighbouring parish and some regular parish members, including one enthusiastic cradle Catholic lady, who at the end of the day had decided to take part in all the Ordinariate events of this year (pilgrimage to Aylesford, Festival in Westminster).

After a thankfully uneventful drive we arrived in Walsingham before 11 a.m. with plenty of time to spare before the first event of the day, the Sprinkling in the Anglican Shrine. So I decided to do what I had missed the previous year, visit the ruins of Walsingham Priory and the site of the original Holy House. I was all alone in the gardens  and so was able to enjoy the peace and quiet of the beautiful surroundings and allow myself to be transported back in time to the Middle Ages and also across thousands of miles to Houston, Texas, where the replica of the priory arch stands.

DSCF0294 smallDSCF0301 smallAt 11.45 we gathered in the Anglican Shrine church where we were greeted by the new rector of the Catholic National Shrine, Monsignor John Armitage, and then by Anglican priest Fr. Stephen Gallagher, who explained the Sprinkling ceremony for those unaccustomed to it.

19262707505_b31113fe98_zThere are three stages: first we would drink from a large ladle, and Father Stephen really emphasised that we should drink freely not just sip, then the priest would make a sign of the cross with the Holy Water on our forehead and finally he would pour water into our hands which we could then use to touch an ailing part of our body or symbolically wash our hands or bless ourselves – and there was plenty of water for everybody.

19325415695_7159e31486_zAfter the Sprinkling the Procession formed to walk the Holy Mile to the Slipper Chapel, and there was Sandra Modric from Manchester with her new banner as she had promised. After a little cajoling she graciously agreed to pose with the banner. Father Andrew Starkie can be seen n the background.

DSCF0307 smallThis year’s procession was decidedly quieter than last year’s, when people had used this silent time to talk with their neighbours and exchange experiences – Sister Jane Louise had had a difficult job trying to restore some quiet. Not so this time. During the procession we prayed five decades of the rosary, a much more meaningful spiritual experience.

19319368912_6440a6f986_z19256788352_037203d05e_zWe arrived at the Catholic Shrine with plenty of time to have lunch, enjoy a good chat, visit the Slipper Chapel for a quiet prayer, make our confession, …

19325412635_32ea4c67ef_z19137826158_d1a8d1b528_zDSCF0319 smallDSCF0309 smallI was able to meet Sister Carolyne Joseph, former mother superior of the Anglican Sisters of St. Margaret who had been received into the Church on 1st January 2011 with Sisters Jane Louise and Wendy Renate as one of the first members of the Ordinariate. She is now a novice in the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham and is regularly at the Shrine. She explained a little of her journey until she found a community where she is really comfortable, and although she is now outside the Ordinariate she assured me that she still considers herself an Ordinariate Catholic.

DSCF0312 smallDSCF0314 smallOur Mass was slightly delayed because of the longer Melkite liturgy which immediately preceded it. As we took our places in the Chapel of Reconciliation it soon filled up completely and although several Ordinariate groups were conspicuously absent this year I had the same feeling of strength in numbers which I had had a year previously. Seventeen Ordinariate priests concelebrated with Mgr. Keith and then came the moment which I had not anticipated. Monsignor Newton took a parchment and read the decree of erection of the Sisters of Our Lady of Reconciliation and Sisters Jane Louise and Wendy Renate made their profession in the form of private vows.

19076605609_e698c2de5d_zYou should have experienced the enthusiasm with which Sister Wendy gave an enormous thumbs-up and then applauded the two Anglican sisters and a brother from the Community of the Resurrection who had joined us for this historical moment.


Mass was beautiful, dignified, prayerful, Anglican and the hymn-singing was sublime. Nothing over-the-top, noone swinging around the thurible in artistic flourishes as last year. Just wonderful liturgy! And when Monsignor Keith greeted me by name as we left the Chapel, that made my day. Where does it happen that the Bishop or Ordinary knows everyone by name?

(Photos Eric Pittuck and David Murphy)

… and now some visual evidence that I really was there:

Here I am waiting for Sprinkling:

19325415695_7159e31486_z       OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

… walking behind Heather from Folkestone:

19075125560_c96ac2aace_z       OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and talking to Folkestone’s Father Jamie:

19329354991_51fcd1082f_z      OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA… yes, that man on the left who wasn’t paying attention when his Ordinary arrived, that man was me, two days after I retired from teaching!! I seem already to have forgotten the rules of basic classroom conduct.

David Murphy

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