Bishop Mark Davies, Youth 2000, The Ordinariate Pilgrimage, First Blessings, the LMS Pilgrimage and Two Thousand Catholic Youths attend Walsingham to Celebrate Faithful Catholicism.
Surely if the Catholic Church was a secular organisation then Sunday the 26th August would have been called something along the lines of 'Super Sunday'. This would have been because the English Catholic Church was present at Walsingham displaying her full beauty and full splendour. The Church was present with all its lights on and all its aspects celebrated; the smells and bells, the liturgical, the Marian, the Eucharistic, the Sacramental, the Mystical, and it was a day for the whole family to be present.
This unique day for the Church included a Youth 2000 Mass with around two thousand young Catholics in attendance, which was celebrated by Bishop Mark Davies. Co-celebrants included Monsignor Keith Newton & newly ordained Fr. James Bradley. This day at Walsingham also included the culmination of the Latin Mass Society's pilgrimage which had begun three days earlier in Ely. Bishop Mark also preached at this solemn Latin Mass.
However, the occasion did not end there, as the two thousand young Catholics silently left Mass they had the opportunity to receive a priest's first blessing. Three newly ordained priests (including Fr. James Bradley) were waiting outside as hundreds filed forward to kneel and receive this blessing and kiss the priests hands as a sign of respect for the consecration that takes place. Father Stephen Wang the chaplain of Youth 2000 (and the primary champion of a future WYD-UK) explained to the assembled Catholic youth that there are special and powerful graces to be received from the first blessing of a newly ordained priest. It is worth noting that the youth responded to this relatively rare opportunity.
However, the highlight of this day was the passionate witness to the assembled Catholic youth to the power, miracle, and reality of the Eucharist and of the mystery that takes place at the consecration. Where other clergy and Bishops falter in their defence and witness to the hidden Christ, Bishop Mark Davies once again came the the fore and led the Catholic Youth of this country. As always, Bishop Mark did not falter in his God given mission to proclaim Church teaching.
Other speakers during the three day Youth 2000 Searchlight event included Paschal Uche, Fr. Sam Medley, Kieran Driver and Frankie Mulgrew. However of special note was Sister Roseann Reddy. This Sister of the Gospel of Life is one of the most passionate and fiery advocates of the pro-life message in the UK today. She is uncompromisingly Catholic and an inspiring speaker who is particularly liked by the Catholic youth. This former SPUC employee is growing in prominence within the Church and gave a funny but powerful talk on how to be proud of being Catholic and also how to publicly and firmly defend one's faith in front of others. It was reassuring to see that the Youth2000 event was supporting other excellent organisations including the Good Counsel Network, 40 Days for Life and SPUC. It needs to be noted that these are all organisations faithful to the Catholic Church, Church teaching and the defence of the Faith. Their work for the pro-life cause is unparalleled.
This is not the first time that Youth 2000, the Latin Mass Society and the Ordinariate have held pilgrimages side by side at Walsingham whilst being led by Bishop Mark. These events always attract the very best which the Catholic Church has to offer in this country. The finest Catholic minds, the most faithful Catholics, the most ardent defenders of the faith, and the most inspirational speakers seem to turn up at the same time at our National Shrine to Our Lady. Surely God alone has had a hand in what would normally be passed off as co-incidence. There are so few genuinely great days of celebration within the Church in this country. Maybe this unique time should be championed in its own right and be promoted and celebrated every year. This could aim to encourage not only pilgrimages to Walsingham but also to celebrate the very best that the catholic Church has to offer. This genuinely was a day where all the lights of the catholic Church were well and truly on and all aspects of Catholicism were celebrated.