First of all “Holy New Year!”.... Why? Because Pope John Paul has declared this the year of Jesus Christ in the build up to the millennium. Our pilgrimage this year is a celebration of St. Augustine bringing the message of Christ to the Angles and Saxons of England 1400 years ago. It turns out that St. Augustine was not the most willing of missionaries. While travelling to England, he and his fellow monks heard such terrible stories about the antics of the savage Saxon and Angles, that he pegged it back to Pope Gregory the Great to ask “Are you sure about this?!???” The Pope advised him that it was indeed a good career move, upgraded his authority so that the other monks would not question him, and redirected him back towards England. It would seem that St. Augustine and his companions then dawdled across the continent with a sense of foreboding as to what their fates would be on arriving in England.
They landed at Ebbsfleet near the Isle of Thanet around the spring of 597, probably feeling like a small group of Brighton football supporters cheering their team’s goal, only to discover that they were surrounded and out numbered by upset Millwall fans!
Luckily Ethelbert the king of Kent seemed to have been impressed with the Christianity of his queen, Bertha, the daughter of the king of Paris and her chaplain, Bishop Luidard. He graciously received St. Augustine and his monks and allowed them to lodge and preach in Canterbury and was himself converted to Christianity at Pentecost 597.
St. Augustine tried to rebuild greater links with the Celtic church that had been cut off from the Church of Rome for nearly a century. The Celtic monks however, were not particularly enamoured with the Saxons as they had been the cause of the Celts being forcefully evicted to the extremities of the British Isles and so a request to assist in St. Augustine’s mission to convert them was declined. As a result of this Christian division, a great opportunity was missed for Christ’s message to be shared more quickly with the Saxons.
As our Diocesan Pilgrimages have evolved, we have become aware of the importance of a good theme to reflect on as our pilgrimage journeys along. The life of St. Augustine of Canterbury as a theme for this year will hopefully help us consider the importance of our Christian unity, how divisions can distract from the real need in our Country today for Christ’s message to be shared clearly and lovingly as Christ would want. Understanding St. Augustine and his monk’s fear of how Christ’s message would be received amongst those seemingly hostile to everything, and how they overcame their difficulties may help us to understand our own fears of speaking out for Christ today.
Our plans for the St. Augustine of Canterbury Pilgrimage are well under way: Danny our hall organiser has obviously had enough of smelly pilgrims as he seems to have managed a “hall to shower” ratio that surpasses anything we’ve known in the past. As a result of last year’s success of inviting pilgrim families to join the pilgrimage at ‘Family Friendly Halls’ we will be doing the same again this year. The halls that this year have side rooms to accommodate children’s needs are: Upper Beeding, Lewes, St. Leonards, Dover, Sandwich, Minster and Canterbury. The McCabe family have for many years managed to join in the pilgrimage with children and a sheet of their experiences and insights into how to accommodate the needs of young pilgrims on a pilgrimage are included in this mailing. Please, if the reason you have missed out on pilgrimages in recent years is due to family commitments… consider this option, you will be most welcome.
News in the leadership team: Lesley Hill has kindly agreed (and been unanimously voted in) as Deputy Coordinator. It was felt by the committee that given my ability to tread on weever fish, break cheekbones, tear ligaments, allow blisters to go septic, cut feet on glass, etc. that a deputy would be a prudent precautionary measure and also allow Lesley an opportunity to consider taking on the role of being our Coordinator in the future. So my advice to you Lesley is: “Don’t swim at Eastbourne, do not faint and smack the side of your face on a curb stone, do not run at and vault stiles, do not cover up huge blisters with more and more plasters and hope they go away and don’t paddle in broken bottle ridden streams in bare feet’ Come to think of it add don’t brake too hard in your car as you can acquire unwanted additions to your rear boot but you know that already don’t you?!!!
Talking of our organising team, we have two new members who, at Lulworth on the Buckfast Pilgrimage, were observed as looking a bit too lovingly at each other for their independence to survive…Congratulations from all of us to Mike Kanssen and Jessica Lee on their engagement… another pair of intertwined walking boots for the pilgrimages!
And to all you pilgrims out there who we haven’t heard from for so long... please get in touch and let us all know how you are doing, it’s always great to hear from you. It would be even better to see you come on this years pilgrimage for a few days: or possibly all the way? Before you dismiss the idea completely consider this, James Walshe, alias Baby Bruce, who had not been on a pilgrimage since 1979 (Second Canterbury Pilgrimage) came on the Buckfast Pilgrimage last year… and it was if he’d never been away.
Hope to see you all in August for a day, a week, or the whole way.
God Bless, love & Prayers
We pilgrims on our journey
Need many things to ease the way,
The light, the path, sustenance
Some friendship both night and day.
The reason for the journey
Is never clear when we start out,
Awakened we find the road ahead
Without knowing what it’s all about
Trudging on - sometimes faint-hearted,
Often tired, despairing and worn.
Many attractive places beckon us
To rest, and of cares be shorn.
Periodically we stop and find ourselves
Fixated, rigid, cursed by sore feet,
Other times, through prayer, we find
A nirvana of sanctuary and retreat.
Sometimes we take the wrong path
And feel it in heart and limb,
We turn around and start again,
It seems frustrating from within.
Our hearts begin to notice one day,
The light is especially warm;
We recognise the transcendence,
In Jesus’ messianic form.
Our journey spreads good news.
Walking we use our imagination,
Displaying love and Christian devotion,
Along our holy trail, our peregrination
Copyright 1997 Danny Thomas
In the beginning there was just a list of pilgrims, and then by the time we had had about three pilgrimages all the names were recorded on a card index. On ‘Mailing day’ a group of pilgrims would sit down with the card index and address all the envelopes by hand. While we had pen in hand, pilgrims would often get a few personal remarks on their envelopes too! About 1983 I retyped all the addresses on the card index into a word processor and this was able to produce a long ‘ribbon’ of labels with the addresses selected by various codes automatically. In 1992, when the word processor finally broke down and was declared to be too old for repair, Andy Ollard took on the job of translating the records from the word processor into a proper computerised database. This was no easy job as the word processor records were not ‘tab differentiated’ and he had to reshuffle an enormous mass of ASCII text. Now in the latest reshuffle of pilgrimage jobs, the keeping of the pilgrimage database has been handed back to me, now that I have achieved a few more computer skills. The pilgrimage database has had to be entered in a slightly different format in the process, and the worry is that we may have lost some information along the way. All this is a very long-winded way of saying please CHECK YOUR ADDRESS LABEL used to deliver this mailing. If anything is incorrect about it, or if you change your address in the future, or have any other information of use to the Pilgrimage Database Keeper, please write to me: Bill Haynes e-mail me via the website
Most of us arrived on Friday evening and managed to find our quarters with the help of a few arrows!!
It seemed like ages since we’d walked the Buckfast pilgrimage and there was so much news to catch up on. So we made a beeline for the pub, to recharge our batteries as usual and to prepare ourselves for roughing the next couple of days!
After a rather cold night with a few typical pilgrimage disturbances, we were practically into the swing of things again. Thank God I had acquired an army sized airbed after that tragic incident in August when my old airbed burst with an almighty explosion! This time I made sure it didn’t let me down. Saturday morning greeted us with a bright sunny start to the day and, after a substantial breakfast, we set off on our days hike to the Devil’s dyke. This seemed to bring out the devil in most of us as we slid down 3 feet of mud (thanks to Pat!). The views were breathtaking looking over the cliffs to Brighton, and later with the mist below us - it looked as though we were flying above the clouds. Even though it was only 10 miles, we knew we had to get into practice again. A pub lunch with a glass of mulled wine soon raised our spirits giving us the energy for the walk back to the hall, during which we enjoyed wonderful views of the setting sun. Back at the hall, a cup of tea had us, feeling refreshed and ready for the evenings entertainment, the BARN DANCE!
I expect Pat needed a double brandy as he came in from back marking to find some practical joker had deflated the tires on his car and stuck arrows all over it! Poor Pat!
It was an excellent dance, very well organised, the best one I’ve been to. We enjoyed making fools of ourselves after a few beers, and Pat swept all us ladies off our feet, caring us around and swinging us till our legs dropped off.
After the barn dance some of us clubbed together to partake in a pyjama contest. We all looked so sexy that the judges must have had a hard time - but I suspect that Simon won when he borrowed Mikaela’s huge teddy bear slippers (were they just meant to cure the blisters?)
On Sunday we attended a very joyful, uplifting service at St. Theresa’s (Portslade’s Catholic church). Our wonderful musicians gave us a head start to the week and rounded of the weekend very peacefully. So with 5* church hall accommodation, plenty of exercise and fresh air, good food, fun, and fellowship it was a very enjoyable weekend. I only wish there were more of them!
See you all soon
As you may already have heard, Jessica Lee (Buckfast 3) and Mike Kanssen (Hereford, Martyrs, & Buckfast 3) will be tying their bootlaces together for the rest of their pilgrimage through life. The Wedding will be at Our Lady & St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Leatherhead on Saturday May 17th from 2.30pm with a Barn dance at the Hall next door in the evening (6.30-10.30).
All Pilgrims will be very welcome. A meeting place for the intervening part of the afternoon will hopefully be sorted out as well. After the honeymoon less will be moving up to Langham.
Celebrating the l400th anniversaries of both the arrival of St. Augustine at Canterbury & the death of St. Columba on the isle of Iona. A group of pilgrims will be travelling from Rome to Canterbury.
From there on the 26th May three larger groups will travel to Londonderry via southern, eastern & western routes, using various means of transport. Route details from Glyn Preece There are celebrations over the bank holiday weekend including an open air service at Ebbsfleet on Sunday 25th at 3.30pm followed by a vigil at St.Augustines (6.30-9.00). A commissioning service is being held in Canterbury Cathedral (26th -11am) and will be relayed to other venues in Canterbury.
Service details from Mary Bond
There may also be activities to join in with the Pilgrims Way in your Parish.
If anyone is interested in attending any of the Bank Holiday weekend celebrations with a group of Pilgrimage friends please contact Lesley Hill
Many Pilgrims, like me, find themselves so addicted to the pilgrimage experience that one a year just doesn’t seem enough. (This is after all the reason I started walking with the A & B pilgrimage) For all these pilgrim Junkies here are details of a few other walking pilgrimages, that might ease the craving for blisters, tired legs, an excuse to drink, and membership of a pilgrimage community!
This is a cross carrying pilgrimage to Walsingham, that is now in its 49th year. Groups, known as Legs, generally of 15-30 young loonies spend the week before Easter carrying a large wooden cross from one of 6 locations (London Leg, Northern Leg, Midland Leg, Oxford Leg, & Kettering Leg) over a distance of about 125 miles. Meeting together in Walsingham, on Good Friday, for Easter. In addition for those who cant manage the whole week there are three shorter options (Ely Leg, walking for 3 days, Easter walking for 1 day, and the family option of ‘Peg Leg’). Costs are Leg dependent but are in the region of £100 for waged & £50 unwaged.
Details for 1997 are available from:
London Leg Leader Dunstan Power
General Organising Director (GOD) -
The sister pilgrimage to Student Cross, is much the same in format, but walks to Lindisfarne (Holy Island) from Carlisle, Newcastle, and Lanark in Scotland. Unfortunately I no longer have the contact details (I last walked Northern Cross in ‘85) but Alec Brady (see GOD above) should be able to but you in touch.
The Portsmouth pilgrimage this year walks from Windsor to Winchester (~60 miles) and costs £75.
Details from Richard House or
Margaret Howells (Coordinator)