My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!
This time last week the Cathedral was full of hundreds of our school pupils and staff. They came to share the Walsingham Dowry Tour, preparing for 29th March when the Catholic community of England will take part in a solemn act of Rededication of England as the Dowry of Mary.Over the two days 6th – 8th February, Mgr Armitage (Rector of the Walsingham Shrine) together with an enthusiastic team of volunteers, helped us host a most moving and encouraging event. It was a moment of deep devotion to Our Blessed Lady. Personally I was greatly encouraged both by the numbers able to visit the Cathedral and by the example of prayer. Thank-you to all who had any part in this work of Grace. I hope Sr.Sharon is able to include some of the wonderful photographs that help capture something of the occasion. It should be widely shared across the Diocese.Our schools responded very generously. Friday morning the Cathedral was packed with our Blessed Lord, our school-children and with sunlight!On 11th February, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (Diocesan Patroness), I celebrated Mass at St.Kentigern’s, Blackpool. It was a wild, wet evening. Even so, there was a good attendance of faithful souls.It seemed fitting to have this Feast following so closely on the Walsingham visit. It was a confirmation of Our Lady’s presence here. And she is certainly needed as we face all the demands of our times. These can seem so overwhelming.The list of things to do and problems to solve appears endless. Our time and resources can appear so limited. But then, we recall what Christ has done for us, and the Gift of His Spirit, and the promise of eternal Life, and all is bathed in a different light.I close this Blog by making mention of a faithful parishioner of the Cathedral parish who passed to the Lord on the day the Walsingham Tour opened. Mary Carthy has served the Lord with generosity and love all her life. She has been a treasure in the Cathedral parish for years, ministering to clergy and particularly to my recent predecessors.I know her dear family will be struggling to come to terms with her death, but they have the profound consolation of remembering her good and full life, and her own joy at being called to the Lord in heaven. As Catholics experiencing personal loss we have the comfort, please God, of knowing that every day that passes draws us a day nearer to seeing our loved ones again. What splendid motivation for valuing the work of the Church and the place of pray!
With my blessing to you all, especially those of you carrying particularly heavy or dark burdens,