The pilgrimage began with the crowning with flowers of the Statue of Our Lady of Walsingham in the Friday Market outside the Parish church of Our Lady of the Annunciation.
Bishop Peter declared: “My dear brothers and sisters, we have come together in joy to crown with reverence the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham. This devotion teaches us the truth of the Gospel message that those who excel in love and service ae the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
A Rosary procession to the Basilica and Catholic National Shrine along the Holy Mile followed, returning to the original diocesan pilgrimage tradition. The Diocese of East Anglia is believed to be the only diocese which is allowed to walk along the Holy Mile in this way.
The pilgrims were joined by a record 140 young people from the Ignite Festival who had, earlier in the morning, walked the five miles from Waterden church near South Creake.
The procession was led by the Parish of King’s Lynn and banners were on display from St Peter Gorleston, St Dominic Downham Market, St Mark Ipswich, St Mary and Holy Family Ipswich, St Philip Howard, Cambridge, St Michael Huntingdon, St Peter and All Souls Peterborough, St Pancras Ipswich, the Peterborough Walsingham Association, Norwich Franciscans and Radio Maria.
On arrival at the Chapel of Reconciliation, pilgrims were offered the opportunity for a Service of Reconciliation and individual confessions. Lunch followed in the sunny Basilica grounds.
At 3pm, Bishop Peter led a procession of around 40 priests and deacons into the Chapel of Reconciliation for a Pontifical Mass, on the Feast of St Joseph the Worker.
In his homily, he said: “We hear from the letter to the Colossians: ‘whatever your work is, put your heart into it as if it were for the Lord and not for men, knowing that the Lord will repay you by making you his heirs. It is Christ the Lord that you are serving.’
“Today we are invited to contemplate the work we must undertake in crafting the shape of our lives.
“Drawing our inspiration and strength from God who is the creator, we are duty bound to embrace the great responsibility of this creative work.
“We are called to master the tools that are entrusted to us so as to craft our lives creatively and appropriately. With the help of others we must learn to employ great discernment as we strive to nurture our own capacities, to develop our own personal expertise.
“Some elements that will exert an influence on our development will be positive, others will be negative. Discerning the difference takes time and energy,” said Bishop Peter.
“We must embrace the wisdom of the master and submit to the promptings of the Holy Spirit if we are to craft a worthy life, if we are to find fulfilment.
“God the creator calls us to partake in the work of creation, he appoints us as stewards who are duty bound to be creative. We are meant to explore – but not to merely exploit,” said the bishop. “We are called to be productive – but not to be wasteful. Our gift for crafting must be more than creative, it must become redemptive.”