On this day 45 years ago, Easter Monday, 31st March 1975, 32 intrepid walkers met at Arundel Cathedral, and started a 14 day trek to “beat the bounds” of Arundel and Brighton Diocese. For the most part they were strangers to one another at the outset, but they would become firm friends as they endured the 240 mile walk, the snowy weather, and the hard floors at night.
Masterminded by the late Fr Bill Haynes, the pilgrimage became an annual event, albeit moved to August so the challenge was heat or rain not snow. We’ve faced other hardships along the way – stolen boots, half-demolished accommodation, obstructed footpaths, injuries and illness, even deaths. But, with prayer and mutual support, we’ve pulled through, and come out stronger.
Only in 2001, when Foot and Mouth Disease closed the UK countryside, have we not been able to make our pilgrimage. With the current corona virus pandemic, our mini-pilgrimage has been put back to 2021, and the summer pilgrimage hangs in the balance.
As the pandemic affects the whole world, we invoke the pilgrimage spirit of prayer and mutual support – for those we know, and those we don’t yet know, those we journey with and those we pass (at a safe distance) on the way. We will come out the other side, and we’ll come out stronger, but for now we must keep the faith and stay strong.