Dear Friends in Christ,
Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!
The summer months now upon us will see many Catholics travelling on pilgrimage to the various Marian shrines, both here in England and further afield. The Catholic press carry features and advertisements for pilgrimages on a weekly basis, as well as featuring less well-known places and shrines. The range on offer is quite remarkable.
Central to most dioceses in Britain is an annual pilgrimage to Lourdes, one of the great Marian shrines in the Catholic world.
The Diocese of Lancaster is honoured to have as its principal patron, Our Lady of Lourdes, and our annual pilgrimage to Lourdes has remained popular and well-patronised over the years.
The dates for this year’s Diocesan Pilgrimage are 22nd – 29th July, and there are still vacant places!
No pilgrim ever regrets going to Lourdes, and invariably returns touched by the experience of having been with others who are like-minded in their attachment to Our Lady, St. Bernadette and the story of Lourdes.
It is never too late to travel to Lourdes on pilgrimage, whatever a person’s age. I have met those Lourdes who just didn’t have the opportunity when they were younger, or who for some reason or another never succeeded in making the pilgrimage. They are delighted to have finally got there.
Then there are others, hardly out of their teenage years, who have been on pilgrimage to Lourdes several times already in their short lives. They acknowledge that something (or someone!) keep drawing them back year after year.
So, those of you who read this and have never been to Lourdes, remember that it is never too late to book on this year’s Lancaster diocesan pilgrimage. You won’t regret it!
Another important moment of pilgrimage for us in Lancaster during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, and closer to home, is that to Ladyewell, near to Preston, on 2nd July, beginning with Mass at 11.00am in St. Mary’s parish church, Fernyhalgh. Ladyewell shrine does indeed deserve to be described as ancient, a place of pilgrimage whose origin goes back many centuries.
In its own perhaps understated way, Ladyewell attracts visitors and pilgrims the year round. Our Lady is naturally at its centre, but it is very much associated with the Lancashire martyrs whose names adorning the shrine sanctuary. The martyrs continue to inspire and intercede for us.
The walk from the parish church to the shrine at Ladyewell takes a gentle half-hour at most, along an appealing country lane, surrounded by farmland.
Again, anyone reading this blog will be most welcome to join us on 2nd July. Many graces and favours will undoubtedly be on offer – Our Blessed Lady will not allow any individual pilgrim to leave empty-handed, and above all will draw us closer to her Son, our Redeemer.
Pope Francis encourages us to make a pilgrimage, be it great or small, during this Year of Mercy. Whatever form our personal pilgrimage takes, may we be brought to know the Father’s love and forgiveness, and through Mary’s prayers, the sense of a new beginning in our journey of faith.
Until next week – May God bless you all,
As ever in Christ,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster