On Saturday September 17, fifty parishioners started off by coach at 8am from outside the Sacred Heart Church, St Ives, to make a pilgrimage to Norwich to gain a Plenary Indulgence by entering the Holy Door. On the coach we said Morning Prayer of the 4th week of Ordinary time, the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Arriving at the cathedral in time for 10am Mass, Canon David Paul greeted us warmly at the beginning of the Mass which he concelebrated with our Parish Priest, Fr Karol Porczak MS. After Mass it was time for Confessions or coffee!
Our group split into two smaller groups to have a memorable ground floor tour of the Cathedral starting at different points for ease of movement. The guides gave a comprehensive history of the cathedral, pointed out the architectural features of the building, built in the early English gothic style and representing one of the best examples of the Victorian Gothic revival. Many of us who have attended diocesan celebrations over the years were amazed to see the fossils on the Frosterley marble which we had never noticed before.
A delicious lunch in the Narthex was served followed by free time to stroll around the garden or visit the Cathedral shop but the more energetic even managed to have a short visit to the city centre.
The group then met at Our Lady of Walsingham's altar where Fr Karol gave a short talk about the Holy Door and led the prayers for the indulgence. We then all proceeded through the door and had a few photographs taken of our diverse parishioners ranging in age from 6 months to 93 years.
We proceeded round the Cathedral to meditate on the Stations of the Cross finishing at the Blessed Sacrament Altar at 3pm (The Hour of Mercy) in time to say together the Chaplet of Divine Mercy then giving us time for quiet prayer before leaving for home.
This pilgrimage was just a part of our events to commemorate the Year of Mercy which began with Advent Talks in December 2015, held in our parish hall led by Fr Henry Whisenant from King's Lynn who spoke about The Jubilee of Mercy- Why Mercy?
On December 8 last year, when Pope Francis opened the Holy Door of St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, our parish priest, Fr Karol gave a talk on the Door of Mercy. The following week the talk was given by Fr Adam Sowa MS, Parish Priest at Peterborough, telling us about The Divine Mercy and Sister Faustina Kowalska.
During Lent we studied the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy and had Forty Hours adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the first weekend of March as suggested by Pope Francis. Fr Karol introduced an additional hour on Saturday mornings for the Sacrament of Reconciliation which began in Advent and will finish on the November 19.
The parish went by coach to the Diocesan Pilgrimage at the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham in May giving us the first opportunity to visit the second Holy Door in our Diocese.
On the weekend of October 7, 8 and 9 our parish received the Image of Our Lady of Mercy which is touring the Diocese and again had the opportunity to take part in 40 hours of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
All of these events, I hope, have given the parishioners in St Ives the opportunity to think about the words of Pope Francis:
"We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a well spring of joy, serenity and peace."
Pictured above are the St Ives pilgrims outside the Holy Door at Norwich Cathedral.