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James bids farewell to Walsingham on path to priesthood

On the feast day of Corpus Christi (Sunday, 18 June) East Anglian Seminarian James Hernandez bade farewell to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham as he is set to embark on his formation to the sacred priesthood at the Royal English College at Valladolid in Spain this September. Here James reflects on his time at Walsingham.

It has been a tremendous privilege and honour to have worked at the Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham for the past year under the guidance and support of Shrine Rector Mgr John Armitage.

It has been a fantastic learning experience which has really helped to shape and order my vocation. I shall forever be thankful for the opportunity and trust shown to me in my role as Assistant Sacristan /MC at the Shrine and will greatly miss the place.

I will miss engaging with the many hundreds of pilgrims we welcome each week to the Shrine. It amazes me just how far people are prepared to travel from all over the country to visit the Shrine, to leave their petitions in the Slipper Chapel, lighting a candle and of course attending the daily Pilgrim Mass at 12 noon.

The experience opened my eyes to how diverse and universal the Catholic Church truly is. People of all nationalities, backgrounds and charisms descend on Walsingham during the height of the pilgrimage season. From the colourful and loud Filipino and Caribbean pilgrimages to Masses being celebrated in the various different Rites of the Church.

However, one of the most meaningful and profound services I worked on was the Pilgrimage for the Deaf. It was very touching to see how much it meant to the people on that pilgrimage to have the Mass entirely in sign language and at such a special place as Walsingham. The Catholic Church truly is a place for all people and all sustained by the Spirit of God.

My vocation is fully entrusted to Our Lady of Walsingham with Our Lady setting the most perfect example in trusting and following God's Will in absolute totality.

As my formation continues I now look forward to being based in the parish of St George’s in Norwich with Fr Sean Connolly.

Please pray for Walsingham and for the continued development of the Shrine, we are truly blessed to have the National Shrine of Our Lady in our diocese, and perhaps you could keep me in your prayers too".

Pictured above is James Henandez, second from the right with colleagues at Walsingham.