Tag Archives: pilgrimage

We are sailing!

Dover Harbour, the Gateway to England – or the Gateway to Europe and the World.

Read about a Stella Maris sailing pilgrimage around the British Isles, which is now underway. The pilgrims have already visited Dover en route from Southampton to Lindisfarne, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and back to Portsmouth, Southampton’s neighbouring, rival city.

God Bless Mintaka and all who sail in her! Today they should be in Scottish waters.


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16 March: Lenten Pilgrimage XII, Never lose sight of our leader.

The Good Shepherd, the one who leads us: Saint Mildred’s, Canterbury.

The following paragraphs are from a pastoral letter by Bishop Rose of Dover in response to statements on diverse sexuality and marriage, which generated much ‘noise’, within and outside the Church of England. We are not seeking to add to the volume of noise nor to prolong it, but we did want to share with you Bishop Rose’s concluding reflections which apply to each one of us as we follow the Good Shepherd on our Lenten Pilgrimage.

We have a rich diversity of culture, knowledge and experience. At the best of times, our diversity is one of our great strengths, enabling us to more fully to reflect the beauty and complexity of our world and our Creator. However challenging we may find life together, it is unChristlike for us to use our diversity as an excuse for separation and withdrawal from one another. Our Lord’s command is to love and serve one another. As your Bishop, I will always seek to follow that command and I ask the same of you. 

We are all children of God, who created each of us in his image, and we are the followers of Jesus Christ, who reaches out and draws all people to himself. In him our hope is found. In him, our messy offerings may become a blessing to one another and to our world. Let us never lose sight of the one who leads us. Let us never fail to sing with joy for what he has done for us. Let us never fail to share the good news that gladdens our heart, even though the challenges of this world surround us. Let’s do this all with kindness and care, for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

Yours in the service of Christ,

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14 March: Lenten Pilgrim X: The Accidental Pilgrim.

This poster from Saint David’s Cathedral welcomes the ‘Accidental Pilgrim’. Let us reflect on the times we have become that accidental pilgrim, when a place or person spoke to us unexpectedly. Saint David’s is one of those ‘thin places’ where eternity can feel closer, if not at the Cathedral then by Saint Non’s chapel and well, along the coastal path, or the foundations of the Celtic monastery at Whitesands. The last mile into Canterbury, likewise is downhill from Harbledown with its holy well.

Where will your pilgrimage shrine be today? Are you on holiday? Make space for a holy five minutes. Notice and seize the moment of grace and be sure to reflect in quiet later.

Apologies for the poor focus, especially on the Welsh language leaf! I shall have to go back and retake the photo.

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7 March, Lenten Pilgrimage IV: Are you ready?

A few years ago L’Arche celebrated fifty years of life on this earth and forty years in the UK. The big celebration in Britain was a pilgrimage to Canterbury, home to the first British community, L’Arche Kent. Hundreds of people gathered at the University of Kent, before an invigorating walk down to the Cathedral for refreshment as well as prayer. Transporting hundreds of people to this corner of Britain, finding accommodation to suit everyone’s needs – we had a few wheelchair users – and learning prayers and songs, all required tight organisation.

Even so, I managed to raise an eyebrow when I led my small group off piste. I was spotted by the chief organiser who wondered what I was up to. He was relieved when we showed up in good time. Quite simply, one of us was a wheelchair user who needed the bathroom, and my family had a new wet room which suited her fine; it was pronounced ‘an excellent bathroom’ and was right beside the back door.

There will always be the unexpected, and often enough the solution to the problem will be at hand:

Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. (Luke 9:3)

We could not get away with that in XXI Century Kent, and with so many people with so many special needs, we had to plan and the plan did its job. And the staves came in useful when we reached the Cathedral, for banging on the floor and raising the roof with their percussion! This part of the percussion procession had hand drums and tambourines.

We wish you a joyful and companionable Lenten Pilgrimage!

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5 March, Lenten Pilgrimage II: down to the sea in ships.

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.
For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end.
Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

Psalm 107:23-31.

This Lent we will be sharing reflections on the rather loose theme of ‘Pilgrimage’.

The description of the merchants on a storm-tossed ship will resonate with anyone caught in a Channel gale, held outside the walls of Dover Harbour until our ferry could safely enter. The ships in biblical times were smaller than those monsters, smaller even than this Cal-Mac ferry to the Scottish Islands, seen here in her ‘desired haven’, her home port of Mallaig. These ferries venture out in all weathers, as a friend and I found many years ago. We were crossing from Gourock to Dunoon; the waves were crashing around the quay, but there was a small army of workers on their way to the Navy depot on Loch Long. Their calm meant we were not at our wits’ end for long.

May we endure all the storms that await us this Lent. By our air of calmness may we encourage our fellow pilgrims to be calm too. And may we cry unto the Lord in our distress, and always praise him for his goodness. AMEN.

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The Synodal Process in the Vicariate of Arabia involved 150.000 participants


  • Accepting the official invitation of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Pope Francis makes his historic visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain (3 – 6 November 2022).

    During his stay in the country, the Holy Father will address the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue, a conference that will focus on the theme “East and West for Human Coexistence”.
This report is encouraging but perhaps rather shaming for the rest of us.
(Transcription of the Video)

Hi, I am Mathew Thomas coming from the United Arab Emirates. I am representing the two vicariates, the vicariate of Southern Arabia and the vicariate of Northern Arabia. In the Southern and Northern Arabia, we have seven countries; the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

So we had a very beautiful synodal experience actually in our vicariates. We have almost one hundred and fifty thousand people as participators in the Synod.

After the inaugural mass, there was a team – actually a team constituted by the bishop, a five-member team – to coordinate the synodal activities in the vicariate and in each and every parish we had a parish synod coordinator. So in every parish we had Synod, the parochial Synod. For all communities we have people from all over the world in our vicariates, from almost hundred and fifty countries, different nationalities, different cultures, different tribes, and people from all communities, ministries, and sodalities took active part in the synodal process.

The fasten foremost, we gave importance that the message of Synod should reach to each and every one, the message of the Synod, so the bishop-there was a video from the bishop which was circulated among all the parishioners and there are other videos we’ve prepared to educate the people about the Synod. And also we had an e-mail send to all the registered members, even to assemblies and to e-mail, the communication was sent to all the parishes.

So finally as a result all one hundred and fifty thousand people participated in the Synod. Among this hundred and fifty thousand around thirty thousand are catechists and children. We have in our vicariate around fifty thousand catechists and children, and all they have participated in the Synod. And also there were a really active participation of the youth in the Synod.

And to reach out to the voiceless, as our Pope Francis say, to reach out to the voiceless we have assigned the Jesus Youth Movement, a pontifically approved movement very active in our vicariate, they have a ministry called the Outreach Ministry, so the Outreach Ministry of the Jesus Youth were assigned to reach out to the people who live in the labor camps for majority of our people in our vicariate lives in the camps. They can’t come to the church on a regular basis. So these volunteers from the Jesus Youth visited each and every labor camps, met them individually, and spoke to them about the Synod, explained them about the Synod and what do the Church expect from them, all that, and they have participated because we had a questionnaire in different languages. So that was what was explained to them and they all helped participators. And also the Samaritan Ministry a charity wing of the church in the vicariate, they were assigned to meet the housemates, the hundreds of housemates were contacted, you know, personally they went and met them and collected their opinion, their feedback from them. So that was also a very beautiful experience and also we’ve contacted some of the people who left the catholic faith. Went to them, you know, like to ask them what is there opinion about the church, you know. And one very interesting thing is that the participation of the children, the catechist and children, very actively they participated and they were explaining how they want the Church to be loved and respected in the world. That was really a very beautiful thing and also I have to mention about the church in Yemen, the tiny church in Yemen, we have around four hundred catholics in Yemen, it is a war-torn country people are facing a lot of issues; where so many sisters of the missionaries of charity were martyred in the previous years. And all of them have participated in the Synod and they sent their Synod report. We had several interactions with them, online, through online media, so that was another wonderful experience.

And I would like to share another experience that the youth from the Jesus Youth Movement, they visited the fishermen from one of the areas in Vasinkaima so they are actually not going to church for two or three years because of bad experience they had from the parish. Initially they were not willing to associate with the youth but later then they frequently went, visit them, talked to them, convinced them, you know, listened to them and finally they are regularly going to the church for the mass and other services. That is the fruit of the Synod.

So this is what I just want to share like we had a very beautiful experience of the Synod and we are going to continue with the synodal process. Then another thing that the synodal team of the vicariate had decided to make a report to the bishop because from each parish we got a report. So based on that report what we need to implement in our parish, what are the areas that we need to improve. That report is given to the bishop for the bishop to continuously monitor with the parish priest and to see that the suggestions from the people are answered. Thank you. 

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23 November: Columban Missionary Prayer V: in his own words.

Since we pass through this world
merely as pilgrims
let us keep our sights fixed on the end of the road,
where our real home lies.

Let us strive to please God
who is everywhere present,
so that we can happily pass along the road 
to the home of our heavenly Father.


A prayer of Saint Columban

At the end of a pilgrimage to Saint Edmundsbury is this processional cross. Around the base of the cross are the arrows with which King Edmund was martyred, The cross itself shines as the sun, drawing our eyes up to the crown of thorns – or is it a star? – that calls us to the end of the road that leads us past this little, earthly, devotional pilgrimage to that which Columban evokes: the road to the home of our heavenly Father.

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9 October, Little Flowers XCVI: taking charge.

Francis trusted his brethren to ‘take charge of the government of the Order’; this was also an expression of his trust in God to care for his family. What would he have said to the basilicas and monasteries of today’s Assisi ? But it feels more of a pilgrimage place than a tourist destination. Good things happen here, good things happen around the world because of what Assisi stands for, because of the international Franciscan community.

Saint Francis, seeing that, by reason of the stigmata of Christ, his bodily strength grew gradually less and that he was not able any more to take charge of the government of the Order, hastened forward the General Chapter of the Order; and, when it was assembled, he humbly excused himself to the friars for the weakness which prevented him from attending any more to the care of the Order, as touching the duties of General; albeit he renounced not that office of General because he was not able to do so, inasmuch as he had been made General by the Pope; and therefore he could neither resign his office nor appoint a successor without the express leave of the Pope. 

Nevertheless he appointed as his Vicar Friar Peter Cattani, and commended the Order unto him and unto the Ministers of the Provinces with all possible affection. And, when he had thus done, Saint Francis, being comforted in spirit, lifted up his eyes and hands to heaven and spake thus: “To Thee, my Lord God, to Thee I commend this Thy family, which unto this hour Thou hast committed unto me; and now, by reason of my infirmities, which Thou my most sweet Lord knowest, I am no longer able to take charge thereof. Also do I commend it to the Ministers of the Provinces; and if, through their negligence or through their bad example or through their too harsh correction, any friar shall perish, may they be held to give account thereof to Thee on the Day of Judgement.” And in these words, as it pleased God, all the friars of the Chapter understood that he spake of the most holy Stigmata, to wit in that which he said excusing himself by reason of his infirmity: and for devotion none of them was able to refrain from weeping. 

And from thenceforward he left all the care and government of the Order in the hands of his Vicar and of the Ministers of the Provinces; and he was wont to say: “Now that, by reason of my infirmities, I have given up the charge of the Order, I have no other duty than to pray God for our Religion and to set a good ensample to the friars. And of a truth, I know well that, if my infirmity should leave me, the greatest help which I could render to the Religion would be to pray continually to God for it, that He would defend and govern and preserve it.” 

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1 October: Extreme Pilgrimage

Saint Mary Magdalene’s Tower is right by Fr Anthony’s front door.

Here are Fr Anthony Charlton’s reflections on meeting an extreme pilgrim.

Being in the centre of the city we inevitable get many callers at the door.

Someone looking for help with their electric, a person needing their house blessed because they are hearing voices, or a homeless person looking for a cup of tea and a sandwich.

On Sunday afternoon just as I was ready for a nap after lunch, the doorbell rang and there was a young man dressed in black who was looking for a place to stay the night. He announced himself as Br Nathaniel and was a member of the comparative new order of young men founded in 2002 in the States and called the Servants of Jesus Christ. Each Servant takes a month-long poverty pilgrimage bringing along only one change of clothes and a bible.

Brother Nathanael was making his way through the UK. He has come from London and after staying in Canterbury was moving on to Aylesford. I was struck by how little he possessed and that he had to rely on the generosity of those he met.

The spirituality of the Servants of Jesus Christ is based on St Ignatius’s spiritual exercises. St Ignatius encourages those doing the exercises to live like the poor. He encourages us to embrace “poverty as opposed to affluence” and also to embrace “insults or contempt as opposed to the prestige of this world”. He saw this as preparing the ground to receive the virtue of humility as opposed to pride.

Lord help me to let go of anything that hinders my relationship with your Son.

Canon Father Anthony
Canon Father Anthony Parish Priest,
Saint Thomas', Canterbury.

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24 September: Franciscans in Walsingham

Our Lady of Walsingham

This is the beginning of an interesting article by Ellen Teague in Saint Anthony’s Messenger Magazine, setting the Franciscans’ return to Walsingham and their ministry there in their historical and ecumenical context. Today is the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham.

IF YOU have ever visited Walsingham, England’s National Marian Shrine, you may have noticed a ruined friary standing on a small hill outside the village. This Franciscan Friary was built in the mid-14th century and flourished for nearly two centuries, until the dissolution of religious houses under King Henry VIII. Over the last five centuries, the friars of the order which served there until the 1530s  – the Order of Franciscan Friars Conventual, more commonly known as Greyfriars – never forgot Walsingham. They have prayed for friars buried there, for those who had caused the destruction of this holy place, and for the day when Greyfriars would return to Walsingham.

There were great celebrations then on 19 March 2018 when a small group of Greyfriars formally returned to Walsingham, to be based in the centre of the town; it was the solemnity of the Feast of St Joseph. Friar Marco Tasca, Minister General of the Greyfriars, attended from Rome. He said the friars aim to a prophetic sign of dialogue and reconciliation to the world today, ministering to Walsingham’s many pilgrims just as they did five centuries ago.

Ancient pilgrimage

Pilgrims have flocked to the small Norfolk village of Little Walsingham since the 11th century to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. It was in the Anglo-Saxon village pre-dating the Norman invasion that a devout English Lady, Richeldis de Faverches, experienced three visions in 1061 in which the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her. In these visions Richeldis was shown the house of the Annunciation in Nazareth, and was requested to build a replica of it. Mary is said to have promised that, “whoever seeks my help there will not go away empty-handed.” In Medieval times, when travelling abroad became difficult because of the Crusades, Walsingham evolved into a place of great Christian importance and pilgrimage, ranking alongside Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostela. The popularity of Walsingham was boosted since it was impossible for Christians to visit Nazareth itself, which was in Saracen hands.

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