Wednesday 15th August 2012
The Norfolk countryside in August sunshine, a crowd of young pilgrims walking to Walsingham, Mass in an ancient abbey destroyed under Henry VIII and now echoing again to the prayers of the Eucharist...this was the John Paul II Walking Pilgrimage, organised by a group of Dominican Sisters and supported by the Ordinariate. Two Ordinariate priests, Fathers Christopher Pearson and Simon Heans, acted as chaplains during the pilgrimage, which started with Mass in the abbey ruins at Bury St Edmunds. They accompanied the pilgrims, walking some twenty miles a day, with overnight stops at Bury St Edmunds and Swaffham where they slept in a church hall and a school gym. The group - which included a large number of young people, several of them veterans of World Youth Days at Sydney and Madrid - arrived at Walsingham on Sunday August 12th, for the 12noon concelebrated Mass. A number of other pilgrim groups were also at the shrine and the Chapel of Reconciliation was packed: the Walking Pilgrimage received a round of applause. There was still one final bit of walking: after a picnic lunch the walkers made their way down the Holy Mile – a journey traditionally done barefoot – for Benediction in the Church of the Annunciation.
The John Paul Walking Pilgrimage began seven years ago, and this was the first time that the Ordinariate has been involved. The aim of the pilgrimage is to pray for the New Evangelisation.