A small band of very Merrie Men brought life and joy to the English countryside. The Rosary was prayed loudly, hymns sung gustily and the enjoyment of whisky debated widely.
We stopped at the old abbey grounds for Benediction - the site of the 11th Century Anglo-Saxon Shrine of the Holy House of Nazareth..
And so to the afternoon and evening - a rousing talk from Ferdi McDermott on educating the young Catholic men of the future. Then to the pub for beers and discussion. What a day!
The annual National Catholic Men's Pilgrimage at the Catholic National Shrine in Walsingham
(coinciding this year with Divine Mercy Sunday)
09.30 - Arrival at the Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham, Houghton St Giles.
10.00 - Welcome and talk by Mgr Armitage, Rector of the Shrine.
11.00 - Personal time at the Shrine.
12.00 - Mass.
13.00 - Packed lunch in the Shrine grounds.
14.00 - Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet and procession carrying the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham along Holy Mile to Little Walsingham
15.30 - Abbey ruins in Little Walsingham; Benediction
16.30 - Refreshments in Elmham House, Friday Market, Little Walsingham
What is the purpose of the pilgimage?
The pilgrimage is an occasion for Catholic men to show their fidelity to the Faith, to the Holy Family of Nazareth and to our Holy Mother Mary under the title of Our Lady of Walsingham. It is also an opportunity to come together in reparation for our own sins and for sins against life, against the family and against fatherhood.
It is good for Catholic men in their roles as spiritual and biological fathers, as leaders and protectors of families and parishes - and for men actively preparing for those roles - to be examples of virtue and of a living and active faith.
Is this an official Catholic men's pilgrimage, and who is organising it?
The pilgrimage is officially part of the calendar of events at the Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. The Rector of the Shrine, Mgr Armitage, has given permission for it to be called the National Catholic Men's Pilgrimage. However, the pilgrimage is organised by Catholic Man UK, an independent organisation for Catholic fraternity in the UK, under the spiritual direction of Fr Pius Collins o.praem, of the Diocese of Brentwood.
Do I need to confirm my attendance with anyone?
No, but if you are a member of the Catholic Man UK facebook group, you can show your attendance on our events page there. Alternatively, if you'd like to let us know you're coming, send an email to Sam Baker at email@example.com.
Are there any costs involved?
A packed lunch can be ordered with kitchen staff at Elmham House by 9 am on the day. The cost is around £3.50. Food can also be bought at the Shrine.
A small donation is traditionally offered for entry to the Abbey grounds in Little Walsingham (where Benediction will take place at the end of the day). There may also be a donation for refreshments in Elmham House afterwards or, if the bar is open, you can buy a drink there.
Is there anywhere to stay the night?
The most convenient place is Elmham House in Little Walsingham. You can book directly with them.
Can I bring my family with me?
As this is a pilgrimage for men, we ask that family members attending the talk, the procession along the Holy Mile and Benediction are fathers, sons, grandfathers, brothers etc!
We are a Catholic men's group - can we take part as a group?
We very much encourage Catholic men's groups to attend together. Some groups will have been doing the Exodus 90 challenge throughout Lent and see the pilgrimage as a chance to celebrate its completion.
Please contact Sam Baker firstname.lastname@example.org with any further questions.