Bishop Alan celebrates farewell Mass at Walsingham

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Bishop Alan celebrates farewell Mass at Walsingham

On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Bishop Alan Hopes celebrated his farewell Mass at Our Lady’s Shrine in Walsingham as Bishop of East Anglia.

Concelebrating was Canon Peter Collins, the new Bishop Elect of East Anglia, whose Episcopal Ordination as the fifth Bishop of East Anglia will take place on Wednesday December 14, the Feast of St John of the Cross.

Bishop Alan Hopes has always had a strong love and devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham since his very first pilgrimage to her Shrine in 1959. In the years since he has come to her beloved Shrine in Walsingham, to pray, to plead intercession and mercy, to ask for graces and guidance, which have been received in abundance. 

As Bishop of East Anglia, he came to give thanks to the Lord, and the Blessed Mother, for all the graces received and especially those received as Bishop of our Diocese.

Bishop Alan had the privilege of wearing the restored chasuble, worn by His Eminence Cardinal Francis Bourne of Westminster, on the momentous day, Sunday August 19, 1934, when he led the First National Pilgrimage to Walsingham for 400 years.

During this pilgrimage Cardinal Bourne solemnly declared Our Lady’s Shrine in Walsingham as the National Marian Shrine for England, Mary’s Dowry. 12,000 pilgrims were in attendance that day in 1934, the greatest number since the days of the Reformation.

This epic event involving pilgrims from all over England is well worth reading about. It was a day pilgrimage of sacrificial long journeys by train, which included events in both Norwich and Walsingham. It was headlined in the Catholic press as: Our Lady Returns to England’s Holy Land.

The Rector, at the beginning of Mass on December 8, welcomed Bishop Alan with gratitude for his love and service of Our Lady’s Shrine over his years as Bishop of East Anglia. The Rector also welcomed the Bishop Elect, Canon Peter Collins with the assurance of prayers from Our Lady’s Shrine. Bishop Alan will have the joy of ordaining Bishop Elect Peter this week in St John the Baptist Cathedral in Norwich.

Bishop Alan began Holy Mass by proclaiming the great doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and continued this proclamation throughout his homily.

At the end of Mass he drew our attention to the uniqueness of this celebration. He expressed his gratitude to all at Our Lady’s Shrine, who over the years, had made him so welcome, especially during his nine and a half years as Bishop. 

Most of all he asked for prayers, saying that he was almost overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion.

“It is with great fondness that we wish dear Bishop Alan a well-deserved, restful, long and peaceful retirement,” writes Antonia Moffat from the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady in Walsingham. “It was extraordinary to have all together an outgoing Bishop, his successor Bishop Elect Peter Collins, and also Bishop Elect Philip Moger, who on February 21 will receive his episcopal ordination as an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Southwark. How often does that happen?”

There were some precious moments in the Slipper Chapel before Our Lady of Walsingham when Bishop Alan did as he has always done – entrusted all to Our Lady of Walsingham, the past, the present and the future. 

Pictured above from left to right are Bishop Elect Peter Collins, Bishop Alan Hopes and Bishop Elect Philip Moger.