The practice of pilgrimage has a special place in this Holy Year of Mercy, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life. John Mullen relates his experience of a pilgrimage to Walsingham.
In this year, the Year of Mercy, over 1800 people gathered to worship the Lord at the national shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. This was a record number of pilgrims for a Youth 2000 event. Around 30 came from the Hallam Diocese.
The message of this pilgrimage was from Revelation 5:5, the Scroll and the Lamb; “Weep not; behold, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals”.
The pilgrims were told that Our Lord Jesus Christ has conquered. As Pope Francis described at World Youth Day, and reiterated during this pilgrimage, we must ‘un-bury’ the talents given by God, as individuals and as societies. We must not be ‘couch potatoes’, but live the life which God intended for us; and commit to the work he intended for us.
Prayer was described by Sr Christiana Mickwee as a journey with God. She then told a story about the relationship between her and her father; when she received her birthday present, a hippy van having asked for a jeep, it was the best her father could provide. During the struggles which arose with this, between the father and daughter, the sacrifice the father made was likened to the love and mercy of our Father. Although it wasn’t what she asked for, the relationship between them was like the trust we place before God in prayer. God’s plan is perfect, and something is expected of us as children of God, that we must realise through prayer to, and trust in, the one who saves.
Those on the retreat experienced a depth of teaching like this from a number of religious and volunteers active in ministry, and from the conversations and discussions that arose between young pilgrims from the UK and many parts of the world. The Guardians of the miraculous relic image of Our Lady of Guadalupe were present with the image, which pilgrims venerated.
Throughout the 5 days young people were informed that even when they feel isolated because of their faith, or feel they have outgrown the messages they knew as children, they are alone with the Lord. The testimonies, given from this event and many other Youth 2000 events, are clear evidence of the Lord’s presence in our lives. Many young people have had significant spiritual experiences during confession, adoration, healing service and through receiving communion.
The shrine is soon to become where Youth 2000 is based. The Youth 2000 ministry is always grateful for volunteers and welcomes more young people to the events which take place throughout the year. An event based in Hallam Diocese, ‘The Release’, took place at St Bernard’s Catholic High School in Rotherham last month.