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A Walk to Walsingham
Thursday 13th August 2015

Ordinariate priest Father Simon Heans, plus a team of pilgrims, arrived in Walsingham in triumph on Sunday August 9th, having completed a 50-mile walking pilgrimage.

This was the 10th anniversary year of the John Paul Walking Pilgrimage, launched by Dominican nuns led by Sister Hyacinthe Defos du Rau in 2005.

The pilgrimage drew enthusiasts from Catholic parishes across Britain. It began at Bury St Edmunds, with Mass in the ruins of the great Abbey, after which the pilgrims slept the night on the floor of the Catholic Church crypt and school hall.  They were then ferried to the village of Brandon for an early morning Mass and a breakfast provided by parishioners after which they began the Walk, covering 20 miles a day over the next two days, staying overnight in a school hall at Swaffham and the village hall at Helhoughton, and then walking the final 10 miles to Walsingham on the Sunday morning.

Fr Simon – whose "daytime job" is as Chaplain at a prison in South London – walked all the way with the pilgrims, celebrating Mass for them daily. This included Mass at the Medieval church of St James at Castle Acre, by kind invitation of the Vicar and the parish. It was the feast of St Dominic, and so a day of special celebration for the Dominican sisters. The pilgrims enjoyed a picnic lunch in the church grounds after Mass.

On arrival at Walsingham, the pilgrims were warmly greeted by the Shrine Director, Mgr John Armitage. They carried their processional cross and icon of St John Paul up the aisle at the start of Mass, where the icon was placed before the altar, to join a relic of St John Paul. Fr Simon then joined other concelebrants for the Mass, before leading the John Paul pilgrims along the Holy Mile to the church in the village of Walsingham for Benediction at the Church of the Annunciation.

"Footsore and grubby – but all very joyful" was how Sister Hyacinthe summed up the pilgrimage afterwards "The aim of the pilgrimage is to pray for the New Evangelisation – a project that has to be rooted in prayer."

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The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
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