Youth Pilgrimage 2011
On Monday the 1st August a group of relatively young people from St Michaels All Angels and from St Augustine’s Belvedere set off for the Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage. After many hours sitting in a minibus we finally arrived at the campsite. A warm and sunny day allowed us to set up our tents in a short space of time.
After dinner we went to the “Big Top” Marquee with the seven hundred other young people who were at the Youth Pilgrimage for the first service during which we were introduced to the Ministry Team who performed a sketch of the creation story from Genesis. The evening concluded with a barbeque, which we’re told was very delicious.
Tuesday began with a nice fried breakfast and after the washing up was done we all went to bible study, which was being led by Bishop Lindsay, the Administrator of the shrine. Bible study was on the Annunciation. Bible study was followed by Mass in the Big Top at 10.30 am. The theme for Tuesday was “1061” The year that Mary appeared to a Lady called Richeldis and instructed her to build a replica of the Holy House of Nazareth in Walsingham. To illustrate this there was a garden shed in the middle of the Big Top which represented the Holy House.
Lunch saw the Bishop of Rochester join us for a “medieval banquet” (which sounds much grander than it actually was). We had a free afternoon, so we went down to the Shrine in the village to say a few prayers. After that we were free to do as we pleased for the rest of the afternoon so some of us went to the pub.
That evening, after dinner, we walked down to the slipper
chapel (about a mile and a quarter from the Shrine) where we gathered to walk
the “Holy Mile” to the Shrine by candlelight.
On the way we were confused about whether we were supposed to be singing
or whether we were supposed to be silent.
So we sang the Walsingham Pilgrim Hymn, all 35 verses of it. At the shrine we had benediction and
sprinkling. Then we went back to the
On Wednesday a depleted number of us went to Bible Study, which was on the Crucifixion. At Mass the theme was 1538, which was the year that the Shrine was destroyed by Henry VIII. Appropriately Mass was not actually a Mass but the Good Friday Liturgy, comparing the destruction of the shrine to the destruction of Jesus on the cross. In the Afternoon there were activities for the young people like face painting, rock-climbing, football skills and other things. And for the older pilgrims there was the pub. That evening there was a Late Night Liturgy, which included opportunities for confession, anointing, laying on of hands. At about 11 am an all-night intercession relay started where different groups went to the big top throughout the night for a time of prayer, some groups did this in silence, others quietly said prayers between the group. Most of our group went down at 11 pm for this, however all the younger members fell asleep within a few minutes of arriving so were woken and taken back after about half an hour, the remaining 3 stayed until about 12 midnight before retiring to bed.
On Thursday, after breakfast, a faithful few (3) went to Bible Study, which was on the road to Emmaus. At Mass the theme for that day was 1931, the year that the shrine was re-established by Fr Alfred Hope Patten. They had rebuilt the shed, which had been destroyed before Wednesday’s service. (When we say they’d rebuilt the shed we really mean they’d put a pole-tent structure up around the Image of Our Lady). The afternoon was another free one so we went to the beach. It was cold and wet so we didn’t sit on the beach, the younger pilgrims wasted their money in the amusement arcades, the older young pilgrims went for a walk along the beach and the leaders sat in a café.
That evening all the groups on pilgrimage were supposed to join their tables together and make one long table down the campsite and have a Birthday Party for Walsingham’s 950th anniversary of the vision to Richeldis. Unfortunately because of the bad weather, this got moved into the Big Top. Some of our group were not too enthusiastic about the idea of a birthday party because it meant we had to socialise with other people who were not from our group, so they made a quick escape as soon as possible. After the “party” there was a disco with Karaoke which we are told was very enjoyable (although the bad singing could be heard from our part of the campsite.) While some people were at the disco there was a minor (windy) storm which threatened the stability of our tents and caused those of us on our part of the campsite to fear for our lives.
On Friday there was no bible study because Mass had been moved forward to 9.30 in order to allow people who came from faraway lands, like Wales, to get home at a reasonable hour. We also had to pack a large amount of stuff onto the van before Mass, although we could not take down all the tents because of the bad weather the day before. The Theme of Mass was “2011”, Pentecost, as we were being “sent out” from our pilgrimage field back to our parishes. After Mass, and taking down the last of the tents we departed at about 1pm. However, as always due to a crash on the M25 it took us a long time to get home. In all a good, enjoyable, but tiring, week.
Peter Baker and Paul Stead