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Parish Cell of the Society of the Holy House of Our Lady of Walsingham
 
 

Our Parish Cell of the Society was inaugurated on Wednesday 23 February 2005. Fr Philip North, the Priest Administrator of the Anglican Shrine, preached at the Inaugural Mass and presented the certificate recording the event. It now hangs on the south wall of the sanctuary in the Lady Chapel. Fr Nicholas is Ward Superior.

The Cell continues to grow, with approximately twenty-five members, and a number of parishioners are currently exploring the possibility of joining the Society.
 

In January 2012, a hand-carved image of Our Lady of Walsingham was dedicated and now provides a focus for all Cell gatherings. The image is painted in mediaeval colours, and was made possible thanks to the generosity of Fr Paul Armstead, our then departing Assistant Curate, as well as Cell members.

Following a Sunday morning presentation by Cell members about the Shrine, including personal testimony of what it had meant to various individuals, a Day Pilgrimage took place on Saturday 28 April. This allowed first-time pilgrims to visit the Shrine and experience first-hand why so many continue to be drawn to this remarkable place in rural north Norfolk.

Our annual residential Parish Pilgrimage took place from Monday 21 Friday 25 May, and was a great success. A gallery of images from our time together may be viewed below.

Members also attend 'privately' and support a range of other events and initiatives at the Shrine throughout the year, including the National Pilgrimage in June. (For further details please contact the Cell Secretary.)

The Aims and Objectives of the Society

The Society exists to encourage and support devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham and Pilgrimage to the Shrine. Members receive information and news from the Shrine three times during the year, including the Walsingham Review in December and August.

Members of the Society and Priests Associate of the Holy House undertake:
 

To honour Mary, the Mother of God and to deepen faith in the incarnation of Our Lord

To promote devotion to Our Lady and pilgrimage to Walsingham

To further, with Our Lady's prayers the conversion of the nations and the reunion of Christendom

To seek holiness of life through prayer, the scriptures and the sacraments

To say the Angelus, or in Eastertide the Regina Coeli, each day


In addition Priests Associate are asked to offer Mass, monthly if possible, for the work of the Shrine and for all who visit the Holy House and are interceded for there.

A lamp burns for members of the Society and Priests Associate in the Holy House; they are prayed for each day at Shrine Prayers at Walsingham and by members of the Living Rosary.
Departed members are remembered at Shrine Prayers, at a Requiem Mass and their names are recorded in the Walsingham Review.

There are currently six Masses of the Holy House based on the following themes:
 

 

Mass I - The Annunciation
Mass II - The Visitation
Mass III - The Word made Flesh
Mass IV - The Visit of the Shepherds
Mass V - The Wedding at Cana in Galilee
Mass VI - Our Lady, Type of the Church


Mass concludes with the singing of the Angelus or, in Eastertide, the Regina Coeli. The Cell Mass is followed by refreshments and a meeting of members in our Parish Centre. At these gatherings Cell business is advanced, and there is a discussion of the issues raised by the homily.

The Parish Cell maintains a lamp in the Holy House, the most sacred part of the Shrine, and actively supports the on-going renewal and development of the Shrine and its facilities through subscription and fundraising activities.

Form of Admission to the Society
 

All


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In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

The Lord be with you
and also with you.

My brothers and sisters,
the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham exists to give honour to Our Lady
under her ancient title of Our Lady of Walsingham,
and to bring more people to know and love the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, England's Nazareth,
and to encourage Christians to seek our Lady's help by pilgrimage to that holy place.
May membership of this Society bring you closer to Our Lord and his most Holy mother,
and ever remind you of the love of God in sending his only Son to be born of a pure Virgin, to raise our lowly nature to the heights of Godhead.

Let us pray

Lord Jesus Christ, to redeem fallen humanity you came to earth,
one like us in all things but sin:
bless we pray, this badge (these badges)
fashioned to honour the Shrine of the Holy House of the blessed Virgin Mary,
Our Lady of Walsingham;
may those who bear this sign be likewise pure temples for you to dwell in,
and be found worthy to live with you for ever in glory.
Amen.

The priest sprinkles the badge(s) with holy water, and presents it to the new members, saying

Receive, dear fellow pilgrim, the badge of the Holy House of England's Nazareth;
through the intercession of blessed Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham,
having put off your former sins and being cleansed from every stain,
may you bear it without fault to life everlasting.

He gives a lighted candle to each, saying

We receive you into all the spiritual privileges of the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham
in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

When all have been admitted a seasonal anthem to Our Lady may be said or sung.
The Admission ends with the Walsingham Prayer to Our Lady:


O Mary, recall the solemn moment when Jesus,
your divine son, dying on the cross,
confided us to your maternal care.
You are our Mother,
we desire ever to remain your devout children.
Let us therefore feel the effects of your powerful intercession with Jesus Christ.
Make your name again glorious in this place
once renowned throughout our land by your visits,
favours and many miracles.
Pray, O holy Mother of God for the conversion of England,
restoration of the sick, consolation for the afflicted,
repentance of sinners, peace to the departed.
O blessed Mary, Mother of God,
our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for us. Amen.


Inaugural homily

Father Philip North's Homily (Priest Administrator of the Shrine)

Fr Nicholas and I had adjacent rooms at St Stephen's House. He can testify that I'm a quiet, compliant, calm, obedient sort of person who never once kept him awake with rowdy parties! Sadly, not always thus. About one year ago, I went back to my old Secondary School to preach at Founders Day. Teachers who remembered me found it highly amusing that I was a priest and began to remind me of all the scrapes and scandalous episodes of my youth.

The biology teacher had an especially good memory. Everyone in class had to bring in a flower to identify the constituent parts. Boys of course conveniently forgot. Girls brought beautiful bunches of daffodils. For a bet, my friend Brian Harries and I went round the whole class eating all the daffodils, so beautiful bunches of flowers became less than beautiful clumps of stems. Not only were we banned from the biology laboratory for the rest of year, we were both horribly and violently sick!

Results of all this - I have little knowledge on the subject of cells, I'm sure they covered them in biology. I just wasn't there. And it's a bad thing to miss because they're what I'm made of. I do, however, know one thing about cells. They grow. In fact, that's about all they do. Don't choose to grow. They just do. It's their natural state.

It's wonderful to be with you tonight as we celebrate the birth of a new cell - the cell of Our Lady and
St Matthew - a cell of the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham. First thing I want to do on behalf of the Shrine is to say thank you. Thanks to Fr Nicholas, to Jean (Collins), to the members and to all who have been involved in this new enterprise. It's an exciting day not just for you but for all who love Walsingham. Big new cells such as this are a really encouraging sign of the health of pilgrimage to Walsingham as we prepare to celebrate our 75th anniversary in 2006. But what's it all about? What is your cell for? Well, like all cells - it's there to grow. In particular, I hope it will grow in three ways, each one of which reflects something of the ministry of the Shrine as a whole.

First of all: I hope that in your cell you will grow together in love. I hope that you'll enjoy being a cell, that you'll look forward to each meeting, that you'll take delight in each other's company. I hope you'll become a real community, joined together by your love for Mary and her Son. Because that oneness amongst you - it's not just about having good times. It will reflect to your parish and to this community something of the Shrine's ministry of reconciliation.

I spent some of last week in Bosnia. It was a fascinating but very disturbing visit. I have never seen poverty like it, and a sense of menace hangs over the country, not because war is going to start again, but because forgiveness has not yet begun. We were there under the auspices of a church called Soul of Europe who try to get people who have been in conflict to talk to each other. They want to arrange a conversation between Croat and Serb-Catholic Orthodox. And they rang up out of the blue to say that the only place in world where that conversation could take place was in Walsingham.

Walsingham - a place where, through Mary's prayers, people are brought closer to God. And as they do so, they are brought closer to each other, and forgiveness and reconciliation can begin. So, as a cell, grow together in love. Enjoy the fellowship you have with each other. And remember - it goes far deeper than you can begin to imagine.

The second way in which cells should grow is in faith. We've just heard in the Gospel a most astonishing story. A young woman gives her life to God in an act of reckless, dangerous discipleship. How could Mary take such risks? Because her life was patterned on God. And so it continued. How often do we read of Mary pondering things of God in her heart? She listened and she went on listening. That's how she could discern where God was leading her. That's how she could remain faithful, even at the foot of the cross and in the upper room.

A cell is there that its members might come together to pray. Each time you come together you will go in heart to Walsingham to pray in the Holy House. And as you do so, you will draw ever closer to God, and discern his will in your life.

It gets on my nerves when people call Walsingham a pilgrim centre. That's not what it is at all. It's a place of prayer and because it's a place of prayer people go there on pilgrimage. The praying is everything. Through your cell, you will become part of that daily round of prayer. And as you do so, your life will become more and more patterned on God's life, and you will grow in him.

And the third way I hope your cell will grow is, quite simply, in strength. In numbers. Occasionally - though fortunately not all that often, I come across a cell that has lost its way. It's become a holy huddle, a group of people for whom Walsingham is 'their thing!' But what is at the very heart of the Shrine? A Holy House where a young girl gave her life to God. Walsingham - a place of conversion. It's a place where, through experience of pilgrimage and through Mary's prayers, others might be drawn more deeply into the mysteries of faith. How dare we keep that to ourselves? So part of the role of a cell - to promote. You with others - have received joys and benefits of pilgrimage. So encourage others to discover that too. I hope that a cell can be an ambassador for the Shrine within its parish. There's something for everyone at Walsingham. For younger pilgrims there's children's pilgrimages or youth pilgrimages in the Summer. There's a special weekend for families in November when children come free of charge. There's a young adults pilgrimage at the end of this season.

Those are really lovely opportunities for people of all ages to find something special on Walsingham's holy ground. So I hope we can work together to tell the good news. Growing together in God. Growing in faith. Growing in strength. That you might grow in the school of Mary - may that be our prayer for your cell as it is formally launched tonight.

And may God be glorified.
Amen.

For more information about The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, please visit www.walsingham.org.uk

Directions from Northampton to Walsingham


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