2006 was a very special year for The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. On October 15th, 1931 the image of Our Lady was removed from Walsingham parish church and installed in the newly built Holy House. 2006 was therefore the 75th anniversary of the restoration of the Shrine as we know it. Clearly, Fr Patten's vision has been richly blessed by God. Pilgrim numbers have continued to grow as more and more people discover how much pilgrimage can enhance their spiritual lives. Hundreds of pilgrims each year decide to keep in touch with the Shrine through the Membership department. Many thousands of children have found out about the Shrine through the work of the Schools' Department. In 2003, in a Radio 4 listeners' poll, Walsingham was voted the nation's favourite spiritual place.
Into the future
But with this growth comes new challenges. Here at the Shrine we have been working hard for the past few years on development and refurbishment plans to create a Shrine fit for the next 75 years. Today's pilgrims require better quality accommodation and facilities. We need new vision for how day visitors and tourists are welcomed to the Shrine and how they can learn about what God offers through our ministry. We need to provide public areas, bedrooms and offices which meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act. The Walsingham Appeal of 2006 raised over £2 million pounds to enable the building of the new Milner Wing, the upgrading of part of the Stella Maris Hospice and the creation of a Welcome Centre. But though the Appeal has now come to an end and the building is built, the Shrine still needs a solid core of financial supporters. Through the strength of the Partnership, our gardens, so important for worship and relaxation, were completely redesigned during the winter of 2004 and the old Halifax outdoor altar was replaced by the exciting new Altar of the Mysteries of Light in 2006 (principally a gift of the Confraternity of The Blessed Sacrament.) In the past five years works have included the refurbishment of the College Library and renovation of the St Augustine's building. Recently, the College buildings north of S. Augustine's have been renovated and refurbished. The Walsingham Partnership is your opportunity to play a part in future exciting new developments - as someone committed to helping the Shrine financially on a regular basis.
Members of The Partnership commit themselves to donating a minimum of £10 per month towards specific, defined projects; the first of these has been providing the funds for the garden re-design. Since the summer of 2004 the Partners have raised over £500,000.
The Benefits of Membership
In return for their generous support, Partners are annually invited to a Partnership Pilgrimage Weekend and Dinner in February where progress reports on new developments being supported are given - and there is a chance to listen to guest speakers, tour the surrounding church landscape with a local guide and meet Guardians and staff.
Partners receive a special membership card and automatically receive our thrice-yearly mailings. A permanent record of the achievements of the Partnership is kept in The Partnership Book, which also contains a full list of the names of members. In addition, prayers are offered for The Partnership each evening at Shrine Prayers.
The Partnership was officially launched at the first Partnership Weekend in February 2005.
If you would like to play your part in building a Shrine for the future please