David Prichard of the Wales (SE area) Ordinariate Group reports that on Sunday 18th October 2015, a group of twenty or so Catholics associated with the Wales (SE) Area Group of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and their guests converged on Belmont Abbey, Herefordshire: this being nearly four years to the day since an Exploration event had been held at the same venue to test the viability of such a Group.
This latter occasion was therefore joyful: a newly commissioned Statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was presented before the Group in the Abbey Grounds, which was then solemnly blessed and consecrated for use by our Ordinary, Mgr. Keith Newton, in the presence of our Pastor, Fr. Bernard Sixtus.
The Statue – looking resplendent upon a Litter decorated with lilies and other flowers with a Marian theme – was sprinkled with Holy Water from the Well of Penrhys before being incensed with wonderful Walsingham Rose Incense. The Image was then processed solemnly into the beautiful Pugin Abbey Church to the strains of that great Catholic hymn, Immaculate Mary.
At the Narthex the organist launched into Praise to the Holiest (in honour of our Patron, Bd. John Henry Newman) before Mgr. Keith continued with a beautiful celebration of Solemn Mass in accordance with the Ordinariate Rite, a ‘first’ at Belmont Abbey. Mass concluded with the singing of the Angelus whereupon we repaired to Hedley Lodge to enjoy that vital part of our Anglican Patrimony – namely, a convivial Sunday lunch in good company!
Later that afternoon the Image accompanied the Ordinary back to Cardiff, where Mgr. Keith – by invitation of the University Chaplain, the Very Revd. Dr. Gareth Jones – preached at the 6pm Solemn Mass at Newman Hall, the splendid new Catholic Chaplaincy complex at Nazareth House. Such is the success of the Chaplaincy that the designated chapel has been rapidly out grown; therefore the Chaplain and students are accommodated by the Sisters within the superb Nazareth House Chapel (the ‘University Church’) for celebration of Holy Mass. Fr. Jones was most welcoming and wrote, ‘… we are honoured by the presence of Mgr. Newton and members of the Ordinariate who have brought the newly carved and painted Statue of Our Lady of Walsingham to the University Church … let us continue to pray for the conversion of England and Wales to the Apostolic Faith’.
The Image of OLW is now in residence within the University Church until the next Ordinariate Group Mass in November, when it will be translated to the Metropolitan Cathedral of St David, to be installed in the central niche of the Ordinariate Chapel Reredos. This is assuming that we can persuade the Sisters to part with the Image – for they have already expressed their joy and delight at its presence in their midst at Nazareth House!
The holy and venerable Image of Our Lady of Walsingham with the Christ Child is one that is instantly and intrinsically familiar and reassuring to those Catholics who have entered into Full Communion with the Holy See, and those who (for whatever reason) have yet to take this step. We can only hope and pray that all who stand before this tender yet powerful and holy Image may be granted that same encouragement, peace and grace.
In conclusion, we are most grateful for the welcome and hospitality afforded to us by both the Abbot and Benedictine Community of Belmont, and Fr. Gareth Jones of the University Chaplaincy.
Our Lady of Walsingham, Pray for Wales.