FROM THE RECTOR

It’s been a strange year for us all, so it was a very odd experience for me to move from a parish where I’d been for only twelve months (half of which were in the first lockdown), to a shrine in semi-lockdown (as it was then). Added to that were the issues raised by the interruption of the plans for the rebuilding of the shrine!

Having the facility to live stream liturgies and devotions has been a Godsend to the shrine, because it meant that a full programme could be broadcast to interested viewers and would-be pilgrims from the word go. We’ve had a steady stream of viewers, though whether they all watch the whole Mass, or Rosary, can only be guessed. Nevertheless, even though lockdowns have ended – we hope(!) – we intend to continue live streaming. There will be many folks still housebound who have become attached to the shrine. There’s a financial aspect to this, too. Towards the end of last year, it became apparent that there was likely to be a shortfall of c£150,000. Because of live streaming, we were able to reach out to our viewers, both on screen and verbally, at the end of Sunday Mass, to explain our predicament. Thanks be to God, the whole sum was raised. Grateful thanks too, to the WA!

Mind you, live streaming isn’t perfect, and we’ve had our fair share of problems. For example, on 24th September 2020, the Solemnity of Our Lady of Walsingham, and the day I was inducted, viewers got as far as the gospel, and then the whole thing packed up! So, it’s not perfect, but we’re always looking to improve.

We’ve shared in the Year of St Joseph, in particular by praying the Litany of St Joseph at the end of the Wednesday afternoon devotions. We celebrated the anniversary of the rededication of England as the Dowry of Mary on the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

During the year, we restored the Holy Ghost/Spirit chapel, by uncovering the mosaic and having a red frontal made for the altar. This was made possible by funding from the WA and the dexterity and skill of Tim! Thank you for that! We’ve acquired some fine red curtains from our Cathedral in Norwich, which can be shortened to fit the archways at the back of the Holy Ghost Chapel, so that when Mass is being celebrated, those passing by needn’t disturb worshippers.

Also, not having any rose vestments for Laetare and Gaudete Sundays, the WA kindly funded an altar frontal and tabernacle veil for the Slipper Chapel, and two chasubles, a dalmatic, lectern veil, chalice veil and burse, and superfrontal for the Chapel of Reconciliation. Made by WA members! There’s enough material to produce another couple of chasubles!

We’ve also taken delivery of some nice fleur de lys cloth, which is going to be made into a curtain for the back of Our Lady’s statue in the CofR. We’ve restored the Slipper Chapel Sacristy to service. It had previously been used as a Holy Door entrance but the arrangements for vesting were quite inadequate. However, should the need for a Holy Door arise again, a curtained off portion of the sacristy can still be used as a passageway.

The Shrine Trustees agreed to restore the  Schumacher pipe organ in the CofR at a cost of just under  £12k, including VAT.  The deal was that we that we would try to raise the whole sum from donations. At 20th October, 71% of the total had been raised. We’ve also had returned to us a small Chamber organ which we’d lent to the Cathedral. It’ll need tuning at some point.

After many months being closed, our tea room opened on 24th September. It’s been newly decorated and the original pictures put back on the walls. We’re grateful for the help of volunteers, who help our staff run the tea shop and also for helping to run a pop-up café in the Pilgrims’ Hall for a while.

As you will have noticed, a programme of painting fences, doors and window frames in blue is well under way; also the clearing of ivy and cleaning the wall along the western side of the stations of the cross.

On sale in our shop, and in the Reception at Elmham House, is our Shrine Christmas card, which shows our CofR Nativity scene. Similarly, drawing from the archive, we’ve had printed a range of Walsingham postcards for sale through our shop

Last but not least! You’ll remember, the Dowry Tour, around England’s cathedrals was completed…save for Westminster! Covid managed to stop it. However, we’ve been able to fix up a visit to this great Cathedral, from 31st March – 3rd April 2022.

Finally, many thanks for your support, to me personally

and for the work and mission of the Shrine.