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The Priory of Our Lady, Walsingham

Advent Newsletter

The Priory of Our Lady – Newsletter Advent 2018


Dear Friends and Associates,

This year has raced by and the seasons seem rather confused with wild fires in California in mid-November and Spring-like temperatures in Walsingham with wild poppies blooming in a nearby field; there have been earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters in several places and the poorer countries and communities always suffer most; persecution, war and strife continue in many areas, especially the Middle East, and we have just celebrated the centenary of the ‘War to end all wars’, WW1, with the lighting of the beacon on top of the pump in Common Place with readings and reminiscences from local people and archives. The on-going Brexit wrangling succeeds in making this ‘oldie’ confused and cross-eyed with a lurking desire to bang a few heads together! The common good of all peoples does not appear to be high on the agenda, and much of our infrastructure is crumbling, particularly our health and social services. Our fervent prayer is for improvement in 2019! But first we enter the season of Advent and prepare for the birth of the Prince of Peace: the Incarnation that is the raison d’être of our Shrine in Walsingham.

There is good news from the past as Associate Irene Jackson writes: It was a normal Thursday morning, 24th June 1982. I dropped the children at school and went to give the church a clean for the Mass of St. John the Baptist that morning. At teatime I picked the children up from school, crossing the road with the crossing lady: lights were at red, a motorbike came through the red light, picked up Andrea and threw her 30 yards across the junction where she landed on the cobbled pavement on her head. She was taken to the local hospital and then transferred to Pinderfields Hospital [Wakefield] where she was dead on arrival. The doctors and nurses resuscitated her and she was then taken to the operating theatre. It seemed like a week before they brought her to the ward at about 12 o’clock Midnight.   Fr Roger Cressey, the hospital Chaplain, was with us the whole time. We were allowed in the intensive care ward. We were not given much hope, it was a matter of ‘if she survives the night she has a chance.’ Well she did! The following day Fr Roger anointed Andrea and we sprinkled her with Walsingham water which we had at home. We also placed a crucifix, which her sister had been given for her Confirmation a few months before, at the side of her bed.  Susan Poole also stood in for Andrea at a proxy sprinkling at the Shrine.

Six days later after many worrying hours, we arrived at the hospital as Andrea was being taken off the ventilator and withdrawn from the medication which was keeping her asleep. When she awoke she knew her name and announced she had been to Walsingham; she had of course been there before and had been really happy in the Shrine whenever we were there. Andrea was in hospital for three weeks and her recovery came on in leaps and bounds, although the surgeons had removed part of her skull, which was to be replaced at a later date and she had to wear a protective cover on her head.

The day after Andrea was knocked down our Parish Priest, Fr John said a mass for her in the evening. The church was full of children from school and their parents as well as our own parishioners, although we were not there, being at the hospital. Douglas told me it was very moving. The teachers at the Staincliffe C of E school were really supportive and turned up during school holidays to keep her up with lessons.

Five months later Andrea’s head was put back together. On Bonfire night we all enjoyed watching the fireworks display put on by the hospital for the children. Those who were able had hot dogs and parkin etc.

With the help of the speech therapist and the educational psychologist, and the doctors at Pinderfields Hospital and most of all Our Lady and Jesus and Our Father in Heaven, our daughter was restored to health. We were very surprised at just how far and how quickly this story spread. It cannot be denied that such a severe injury was overcome so very quickly and completely.

Miss Enid Chadwick was only too pleased to put a plaque of Thanksgiving in the Shrine. I only hope this story (which is what I agreed to when the BBC wanted to make ‘England’s Nazareth’) will encourage others to come to the Shrine and give them hope in their own troubles.

We will always be grateful for all the help we received from friends, neighbours, hospital staff, and above all everyone's prayers which helped so very much. Deo Gratias

We still see Andrea, also an Associate, who has led a perfectly normal life and visits both the Shrine and Priory regularly, usually with a friend; her parents have remained regular pilgrims and visitors too.

New Associates: We have been delighted to receive four this past summer, the youngest being aged 11 years!

Data Protection: Many thanks for returning the forms so that we can update our records – we enclose another form for those who have failed to do so in the hope that you do wish to remain in contact with us. We have had a couple of envelopes returned with the note ‘Gone away’ and we have no means of knowing if that means that the person has relocated or died. We do appreciate being notified of changed circumstances – if possible! – as we like to keep in touch and remember our Associates by name regularly in our intercessions at Midday Office.

Lent: At the moment Lent seems a long way off but it will be upon us before we know it. It is always seen as a time to give things up, but is also a good time to take stock of how we are living the Christian life and to take on new practices. It’s a good time to think about our prayer life: do we try to spend some quiet time in prayer each day? What about going to Mass on an extra day? Or maybe you could try saying the Rosary daily or starting the day with Morning Prayer and/or finishing with Compline. For those of you in Walsingham how about joining us once a week for Mass, Exposition or one of the Offices? These things are not just for the Priests and Religious but for all Christians.

Earlier in the year we looked at how we could help our Associates in their spiritual lives and one of the things suggested was to re-introduce a silent Lent retreat after several years without one. Our Bishop Visitor, Bishop Peter Wheatley, will lead the retreat which will last from Vespers on Mon 25th March 2019 until after Mass on Thurs 28th March. We have accommodation here at the Priory for up to 10 people with all meals to be taken in the Shrine refectory. The cost for full board will be £150 per person, any local people who wish to join in but not stay at the Priory are asked to book their own meals in the Shrine refectory or bring a packed lunch with them.  We hope that as many of you as possible will join us for this retreat, putting aside 4 days during Lent to spend time apart in silence.

If you would like to join us please fill in the enclosed form and return it to Sr Carol as soon as possible with a deposit of £30, thank you. Please note that cheques should be made payable to Priory of Our Lady.

Cottage and Guest rooms: St Margaret’s guest cottage has been well used over the last year: it is available all the year round and bookings are often back to back over the summer months. As many of you are probably aware the cottage is spacious with a large sitting room, dining area and kitchen, it has 3 twin bedrooms plus a single self- contained down stairs annex which can either be booked separately or together with the main cottage.

We also have 7 Guest bedrooms available in the Priory, these are specifically for Associates, Priests, Ordinands, and other Religious or close family members. The guest area has its own small kitchenette and sitting room and we have already made a few small improvements to the rooms with new curtains and light shades, the larger rooms have desks where you can study and we are planning to add another shower (or 2) soon and to have some of the rooms re-decorated.  They are suitable for those who like somewhere a bit quieter to stay.

All Guest accommodation is self-catering or you can book meals in the Shrine Refectory; the cost of staying is £37.50 per person per night (£22.50 for 5 – 16yr olds). To book the cottage or a room in the Priory please contact Sr Carol.

Chapel: It has been great having an increase in numbers joining us for Morning Prayer since we changed the time to 9am earlier in the year; anyone coming to our Mass is welcome to come that bit earlier and join in. We continue to start the day with the Office of Readings at 7am, Midday Office is said at 12noon, Vespers at 5pm and Compline at 7:30pm; when in Walsingham you are always welcome to join us for any of the Offices, Mass which is said at 9:30am daily or for some quiet time of prayer, either at Exposition which is held from 10:30 – 12noon or at any other time.

As I write this we are having the chapel, cloister and Sacristy redecorated; the ceilings and window frames had become very discoloured due to the candle smoke and incense. Some of the wood in the outside doors and window frames needs repairing and then repainting; the wooden balcony outside chapel is also in a bad state so some of that will come down, leaving just the upright posts and curved top which will then be used to support climbing plants.  We are also having the lighting in chapel improved as it can be a bit dim in there. This work, and other work we are hoping to have done, has been made possible with a legacy which Fr Michael McLean left us, for which we are very grateful.  

Updates: Sister Mary Teresa remains in St Mary’s Convent and Nursing Home at Chiswick and, sadly, her dementia has progressed rapidly over recent weeks. She lies in bed most of the time, is unable to push herself up the bed and quickly slides down if helped to sit up. Some conversation is possible but usually ‘circular’ and memory loss is very obvious. She is comfortable and well cared for and has not lost her lovely smile.

Sister Alma Mary is well cared for and settled in Dorrington House, Wells-Next-the-Sea and usually enjoys a visit for up to half an hour. Conversation is limited but one can be surprised by a sudden pertinent remark! She is usually up, dressed and sitting in a chair but is unable to coordinate her limbs and move around independently.

Sister Columba continues to live independently in her Aberdeen flat and manages remarkably well at the age of 92! There is a bus stop at the end of her road so it is easy to get to the Cathedral, and friends visit and give her lifts to St Margaret’s Church in the Gallowgate, or for a little outing.

Sister Mary Angela is improving but still unable to keep going for a full day and tires easily. Long waiting lists for various cardiac tests and clinics resulted in a period of seven months before a definitive diagnosis was made, but no intervention is required except ‘keep on taking the tablets’! The next appointment is awaited (May 2019!) so the doses can be tweaked for the individual so that there is more energy and ‘staying power’!

Prisca, now 3½, spends a lot of time curled up asleep in her little basket in the garden room that is reached via the office. It’s a safe place away from visitors – she remains very timid and rapidly disappears if anyone other than ‘her’ Sisters comes in. Sister Angela managed to catch her by the scruff of her neck and put her in the cage for transport to the vet for her annual check this autumn … it was only the second appointment this year whereas last year we were successful on the seventh appointment. Practice makes purr-fect but she didn’t ‘speak’ to Sr A for the next week!

Dates for 2019: Dedication Festival – Thursday 2nd May

St Margaret’s Festival – Thursday 18th July


With our love and best wishes

for a joyful  and blessed


and a happy peaceful


Priory of Our Lady, Bridewell Street, Walsingham, Norfolk NR22 6ED.  01328 821647

Sr Carol:  01328 820340