Three bishops helped to say farewell to the Acting Rector of the Walsingham Catholic National Shrine, Fr James Mary McInerney, at a celebration which coincided with the national grandparents and the elderly pilgrimage.
On July 24 2023, a farewell Mass was held for Fr James Mary at the Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady in Walsingham. The event was presided over by Bishop Peter Collins, Bishop Emeritus Alan Hopes and Bishop David Oakley of the Northampton Diocese. Also in attendance was The Reverend Kevin Smith, Administrator of the Anglican Shrine, and Friars Fr Colin Mary and Fr Gerard Mary, alongside other clergy who serve at the Shrine. The celebration also coincided with the national grandparents and the elderly pilgrimage.
Fr James Mary had been serving as the acting Rector at the National Shrine following the departure of Mgr Philip Moger, who assumed his new ministry as an Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Southwark. In his address at the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Peter Collins acknowledged the service of Fr James Mary.
Bishop Peter Collins said: “This day marks our opportunity to give thanks for the work and ministry of Fr James, our acting Rector.
“We were blessed with the generosity of Fr James Mary, in being willing to accept the invitation offered by Bishop Alan and myself, to assume the role of acting Rector until the appointment of a permanent priest to the role of Rector, which, of course, you will now be aware has taken place. Fr Robert Billing, from the Diocese of Lancaster, will be joining us in September. He paid a visit to the Shrine this past week and had two very fruitful days, speaking not only to Fr James Mary, but to the other priests who serve the Shrine, and to the officers and all the staff.
“It is a day of sadness, for the departure of Fr James Mary marks the departure, finally, of our recent imprint from the Friar’s convent. Fr James Mary is joined today by two of his confreres who have served at the Shrine. Bishop Alan and myself went in search of the possibility, with the Minister General of the Order, that they might continue, but it has not been possible.
“We give thanks for the past six years of service the Friars have given to this wonderful place of sanctuary. Fr James Mary has brought many gifts to bear; the sincerity of his faith is nourished by his humility, natural and supernatural. He is a man who has cooperated with grace in so many ways. His pastoral ministry is characterized by his gentleness, and we give thanks for all the fruit that has flowed from his service in our midst. We wish him well now on his journey back to the Emerald Isle. He himself would long to be here still in the days ahead, but he is a man under obedience and he goes wherever his superiors send him. We know that he will forever remain sheltered under the mantle of Our Lady of Walsingham.
“Fr James Mary, on behalf of everyone present, on behalf of all those associated with the Shrine, on behalf of all the pilgrims you have served, a sincere thank you, and we entrust you confidently to God’s grace and mercy.”
Following the end of the Mass, a shared buffet and farewell cake were served to mark the departure of Fr James Mary.
Pictured above, from the left, are Bishop Peter Collins, Fr James Mary and Bishop Emeritus Alan Hopes.