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The Priory of Our Lady, Walsingham


Newsletter June 2019

Time races on and we are already in the sixth month of the year, celebrating the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost – may we all be richly blessed and show forth the gifts and fruits of the Spirit in our daily lives. Our troubled and divided world and nation has great need of them at this time as we pray and strive for healing, peace and reconciliation at every level of our ‘me-centred’ culture. We are now accustomed to instant communication with modern technology through the worldwide web, but so many people of all ages feel isolated and lonely because they do not see or talk to their ‘friends’ face to face. Much of our ministry here in Walsingham is being seen about the place as a friendly presence and, more importantly, a listening ear. Every single person is greatly loved by, and precious to our dear Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, but so many do not know Him and think that no-one cares about them. A smile really does light up another’s day and a cheery ‘Good Day’ also helps – even the traditional English way of talking about the weather! We all like to be noticed rather than ignored, and it is so easy to become exclusive in our contacts and friendships, only taking notice of those we like and get on with. We need frequent reminders that all are made in the image and likeness of God, and thus it is possible to see and serve Jesus in every person we meet. Our Founder, John Mason Neale, teaches us a two-fold devotion to Jesus that is appropriate for all Christians seeking to serve Him – devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to Him in all with whom we come in contact. Let us pray for more people to see and serve our Lord in this way so that ripples spread and produce a gentle revolution.

Decorating: Life has been very busy here over the winter and, since our last Newsletter, not only has the Chapel decorating been finished – the ceiling which had gone rather grey is now beautifully white and the doors, radiators and arched beam all match the chairs and stalls, being Stiffkey Blue rather than grey – the lighting has also been improved. The work then continued with the Guest area being fully decorated; the bedrooms, kitchenette and sitting room have all been painted, 3 of the bedrooms have new carpets, and the door of the enclosure was moved backward to give the guest area another shower. So now not only do we have the cottage which sleeps seven but also seven rooms available in the Priory, these Priory guest rooms are being used regularly by Priests, Associates, Religious and family members, some of the rooms have desks and all are suitable for retreats or a quiet time away. The work then continued onto the outside of the building; once the decorators had started, they found that a lot of the wood in the doors and window frames was rotting and so this was replaced before all outside doors and windows were painted.

All this work was made possible by a large legacy from Fr Michael McLean and a smaller one from Miss Irene Gulliver. We give thanks for their thoughtfulness and generosity.

Lent retreat: The work on the guest area had been finished just in time for our guests to arrive for our Lent retreat. This was the first time we had held an open residential retreat at the Priory, our last retreat, for local Associates only, being five years ago. The retreat, which lasted from the Monday afternoon until the Thursday after Mass, was wonderfully led by our Bishop Visitor, Peter Wheatley, who gave us a lot to reflect on in his talks. It was good to have our newly decorated guest accommodation nearly full with 8 friends and Associates staying and 8 local people coming in daily for the retreat. It was lovely have such a full chapel for all our Offices, with most of those who were stay getting up and coming to the optional 7am Office of Readings. Holy Hour was held each day leading up to a midday Mass and on the last morning we finished with Benediction. Bishop Peter gave a talk after Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer each day. A table was reserved in the Shrine refectory so that we could eat in silence. Everyone who attended expressed how much they had enjoyed the retreat and several have already booked for next year.

We are lucky enough to have been able to book Fr Luke Irvine-Capel, who has recently been appointed as Archdeacon of Chichester, to lead next year’s retreat. It will be held from Mon 9th – Thurs 12th March at a cost of £160 full board. We have limited accommodation with room for 11 people to stay here so please book early to avoid disappointment. To book please contact me, Sr Carol, on [email protected] or 01328 820 340.

Sisters: Sr Mary Teresa (just celebrated her 89th birthday) continues to be well looked after in Chiswick – she needs full nursing care and is now much happier as she has the use of a reclining wheelchair that was given to the Nursing Home by the family of a former resident just before Christmas. She is unable to coordinate her limbs and stay sitting up, and refused to get up or be dressed for a while, but was in Chapel for the Christmas services and regained her lovely smile. Sadly, both her sisters have died this year: Pamela White, aged 94, in Australia in February; Joy Biddescombe, aged 96, on 8th June at home in her husband Guy’s arms. He had lovingly cared for her for several years at their home in north Wales. We remember both families in prayer – when they were all more able they used to have three-way Skype conversations!

Sr Alma Mary, aged 91, is mostly cheerful at Dorrington House in Wells-next-the-Sea and says she does not feel well enough to come down to Chapel or has received Communion this morning … It is difficult to persuade her to eat and drink but chocolates disappear very rapidly!

Sr Columba, 93 next birthday, is finding life more of a struggle now and is not enjoying the aging process, but is still managing to live independently in her Aberdeen flat. Her lovely Oratory is steeped in prayer and that is the most important aspect of our life.

Sr Mary Angela is much better than last year but still can’t manage a full day. Basically, a year has been ‘lost’ due to the side-effects of the drugs, but the tweaking of doses was begun by the consultant cardiologist in early May. Hopefully the GP will continue the tweaking as the next hospital appointment is not until November. Her greatest joy is that her Goddaughter, Clare and husband Fr Harri, are now in the village having moved from Milford Haven last November! Fr Harri was licensed as Priest-in-charge of the Walsingham Benefice on December 3rd.

Sr Carol Elizabeth is keeping everything going and packs a lot into each day over and above the ‘daily round and the common task’: sacristan at the Priory and St Peter’s, Great Walsingham; ‘Open the Book’ at our local CofE Primary School and other children’s and youth work; ‘Fan the Flame’ (see below) to name but a few!

Prisca: likes to think she is in charge … Fr Harri kindly gave this lovely recliner chair for Sr Angela to rest in – it was too large for his vicarage office (not that he gets much time to rest with six parishes!) Our feline member thinks it is just purr-fect when the sun is shining and is very reluctant to move. She likes to be stroked but is not a lap-cat and will not be picked up. When we are having a siesta, even Dreamies don’t have an instantaneous effect, except a lunchtime when she strolls through to the refectory with her tail up straight. She sends purr-full thanks to her admirers.

Associates: We were delighted that Bishop Peter received two new Associates during the Retreat: Gary Gould, who is to be ordained Deacon in Norwich Cathedral on 29th June to serve in the Walsingham Benefice and also Hempton; Sandy Topham who is one of the Shrine Welcome Team. There are others thinking and praying about becoming part of the St Margaret’s extended ‘family’ – watch this space!

With sadness we report the deaths of five Associates: Fr Alan Reed on 29th December 2018; Douglas Hurley on 23rd January 2019; Florence Green (aged 95) on 16th February 2019; Fr Geoffrey Miller on 24th April 2019 and Betty Spooner at the end of May 2019. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends, but we also rejoice that their lives are changed and not ended – may they rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen. Alleluia!

Craft Workshop: Would you like to come and stay in Walsingham and spend a couple of days doing some crafts? We are holding our first craft workshop from Tues 8th – Fri 11th Oct; guests will be able to spend time relaxing and making cards and goods for us to sell on our stall for our Charity of the Year, this year’s charity being the Kings Lynn Winter Night Shelter. We have plenty of card and other bits for people to make greetings cards, beads so you can learn to make Rosaries, materials to make lavender bags and other goods or perhaps you have a simple craft which you would like to share with us. Don’t worry if you are not very ‘crafty’ we could also do with people who could price up goods and other odd jobs. Your stay will be full board with the accommodation being free either in our Guest cottage or the Priory but a charge of £80 being made to cover the cost of all meals in the Shrine refectory. For more details or to book please contact me, Sr Carol on [email protected] or 01328 820 340.

Fan the Flame: I, Sr Carol, spent a week in May, alongside Fr Michael Bailey and Fr Graham Lunn, being one of the missioners for ‘Fan the Flame’ at St Augustine’s Belvedere. The Sunday Mass was celebrated by Bishop Norman; Fr Michael, Fr Graham and I were commissioned and called upon to work with the home team (Manda, Pat and William) and with the people of the parish to preach the Word boldly, to Pray, listen, and encourage the faithful in their discipleship and witness.

There was a liturgy each evening, each with a different theme. The Liturgies all included singing, a reading, prayers, someone giving their testimony, and teaching on the theme of the night. The first evening started with a Gospel band who led us in some lively singing, then Ella, one of the young people, told us why she goes to church and what going to church means to her. She told us how she had gone to the Youth Pilgrimage at the age of 11 and what this meant to her and how she now lives out her vocation of working with animals at Battersea Dogs Home. Fr Michael then spoke to us about the grace of Baptism. At the end of the evening, as with each evening, I was available for those who wanted someone to talk to and pray with them.

The second evening was led by Fr Graham on Grace, God’s free gift, focusing on Mary.  We looked at what Mary is recorded as saying in the Bible: she asked how? Said yes, sang the Magnificat (knew Scripture), and finally she told them to do whatever he tells you. Keith gave his testimony on how he was asked to be a Godfather, which led him to start going to church & on to becoming a Reader.

The next morning we went into Trinity Secondary School, joining 2 RE lessons & a group who use the chapel during break & lunch time. In the first lesson the pupils were discussing families, with lots of questions on our views of same sex marriage, many of the pupils were from Pentecostal churches and what struck us was how conservative they were in their views. In next lesson they were discussing life after death.  In both lessons I was given a short time to talk to the pupils about Walsingham and pilgrimage.

That evening was focused on the Cross with Fr Michael leading us in thinking about forgiveness. At the end of the evening there was an opportunity to make confessions.

Wednesday morning and this time we were in St Augustine’s primary school for school Mass and a chance to look around. Most of the older children were busy with SATs so I spent a short while with yr 2 answering questions about what a nun is & what I do, then went to year 1 where Fr Graham and I learnt about bossy verbs.

The evening was led by Fr Graham focusing on the Resurrection and God’s healing power, Pam gave an emotional testimony on how she had returned to the church after her mum had become ill and the strength the church had given her. This led on to the ministries of Laying on of Hands and anointing, with another opportunity to make confessions.

Our last evening focused on the Eucharist with another moving testimony from Rosemary telling us how her faith was tested with the illness of her son and how he was healed. After a quick bit of dancing by our younger members to the music from Fame – put in because, after the leaflets had been proof read three times, and printed & distributed to all the houses in the parish, it was noticed that they were advertising Fan the Fame! We then moved on to Benediction. The evening finished with another opportunity to make confessions or to talk to me, and then a buffet.

On two of the afternoons I showed Fr Graham and then Fr Michael around the local area and over to Thamesmead, showing them where I used to live. We were stopped by several people saying hello & if I was ‘real’ and asking how to become a Nun: people say no one talks to anyone in London, but it certainly wasn’t true that afternoon.

I was really impressed by the week: the three parish leaders, Pat, Manda, and William along with others had worked hard preparing everything. We received wonderful teaching from Fr Michael and Fr Graham each evening and heard moving testimonies from several people. We were well looked after and very well fed by various people from the church – a great week of teaching, fun, food and fellowship.


Dates for 2020: Lent Retreat – March 9th-12th with Fr Luke Irvine-Capel

Dedication Festival – May 14th We invite our friends to this

St Margaret’s Festival  - July 23rd We invite our Associates to this