Bishop Alan celebrated midday Mass at the Basilica on September 9 (listen to his homily here).
After lunch the Bishop officially blessed Dowry House, in the presence of many local people, visiting pilgrims and benefactors Peter andDiana Hoye.
Both Bishop Alan and Shrine Rector, Mgr John Armitage, thanked Peter, the original owner of the building who generously made it available for the Shrine through the setting up of the Society of Our Lady Faithful Virgin and Mother of Mercy.
Sr Camilla Oberding, from the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham which runs the retreat centre, said: "Peter's vision of a retreat centre run by a praying and believing community of sisters has now been realised. His joy at the transformation of the property was palpable and evident to all."
Guided tours of the building for small groups were offered to those who hadn’t seen the rooms before and the whole day concluded with light refreshments and a celebratory cake cut by Peter and Diana. Those who weren’t too tired joined the sisters for evening prayer.
Please visit www.dowryhouse.org.uk for further information and to join the sisters for one of the events taking place there.
Bishop Alan said in his homily: "We need a Sabbath day in our lives – or a week, or even a month when we allow ourselves to be refreshed and renew – a time of holy restfulness – a time when as St Augustine put it so beautifully: "We shall rest and we shall see, we shall see and we shall love, we shall love and we shall praise'."
Pictured above, the opening ceremony and blessing at Dowry House Retreat.