This is a diary account by Guardian Ewa who accompanied the Miraculous Relic Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the pilgrimage visit to the Catholic Cathedral of St Mary and St Boniface in Plymouth in July 2018. Ewa can speak Polish and is of great help to the Guardians in reaching out the Polish communities.
Friday, 6th July 2018 – The Service of Reception
The Relic Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was displayed in the Sanctuary of Plymouth Cathedral, which was consecrated 160 years ago on 25 March 1858.
The Service of Reception at 7.00pm was followed by Holy Mass presided by Monsignor Bartholomew Nannery. About 50 to 60 people attended. Veneration of the Relic Image continued until 9.20pm. Many people were touched and great devotion was shown by those attending Holy Mass. Monsignor Nannery shared with us that he was touched by the fact that we stressed that Our Lady was truly present in the Cathedral and he was very happy to keep saying this to others afterwards. Monsignor Nannery spoke with passion during his homily about our Holy Mother. He told the congregation that Our Lady was appearing in various corners of the world heralding and announcing Her Son’s message as well as Her own: “Am I not your Mother?” “These were Her words to Juan Diego and they are also addressed to all of us”, Monsignor reminded us.
Saturday, 7th July 2018
The morning Mass at the Cathedral started at 10.00am but veneration of the Relic Image started at least an hour beforehand. The Mass was well attended by 70 to 80 people and again Monsignor Nannery was the main celebrant. After Mass, about a dozen people moved to the side chapel where the Holy Sacrament was venerated. After devotions to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Cathedral prayer group said Fatima prayers and prayed the Rosary.
The veneration of the Relic Image continued throughout the day with a break at noon for the Angelus and Our Lady of Guadalupe prayers. At 1.00pm, to an audience of at least 50 to 60 people, Guardian Andrew spoke for an hour on the apparitions and the Relic Image itself. Monsignor Nannery and another priest attended Guardian Andrew’s talk.
At 2.30pm, about 40 people took part in a Pro-Life service led by Father Jonathan Bielawski, which finished with the Rosary.
Veneration of the Relic Image continued until 4.00pm when Father Jacek Kostuch led the Polish community service. Guardian Ewa spoke to approximately 30 to 35 Polish people about the apparitions and the significance of the Relic Image (in 1531 and now). Her talk had special emphasis on the prophecies of St John Paul II and Our Lady as the Star of the New Evangelisation and what this means, as well as Our Lady’s importance in our times (with some quotes from St Maximilian Kolbe). Father Jacek was pleasantly surprised by the preparation of all texts in Polish, the attendance and the whole service, thanking us afterwards for our contribution.
The day finished again around 9.00pm.
Sunday, 8th July 2018
The church was packed. Ewa was asked by Father Jacek to introduce Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Relic Image to the Polish faithful before the Polish Mass at Christ the King Church at 9.30am. There were around 70 people in the congregation and what was especially wonderful was the fact that everyone joined Ewa in the prayers to the Holy Spirit before her talk. The small choir tried to sing the Polish text of the hymn to Our Lady of Guadalupe but they felt that they had not had enough time to practice.
Andrew reported later that many Polish people came to venerate the Relic Image in the afternoon. Ewa also mentioned on Monday to Bishop Mark (who was away at the weekend and could only come to see us on Monday morning) that all the congregation in the Polish church prayed to the Holy Spirit and the Bishop was very moved!!! He wiped a tear from his eye listening to Ewa’s report!
Noon prayers and devotions to Our Lady of Guadalupe continued as per the schedule.
At 5.00pm, Vespers were sung in the Cathedral. It was a most uplifting service, again led by Monsignor Nannery and the resident priest.
At 7.30pm, Father Jonathan Bielwaski, and Michele Thompson of the Diocesan Evangelisation Team came to speak about evangelising the people outside the faith: ‘Live and let Live or Live and let Die’. Practical examples were given and everyone was encouraged to start chatting to people on the buses, in the streets…, wherever we find ourselves. Prayers to the Holy Spirit were encouraged to enable us to say things that the Lord wants us to say.
Again the veneration finished around 9pm.
Monday, 9th July 2018
This was the day reserved for school visits.
Children from Notre Dame School came just before 1.00pm with two teachers and a priest. They had walked for five miles as part of their pilgrimage effort. The children are all leaders of prayer groups in the school and were most attentive during the talk given by Ewa. Again, all joined in the prayers to the Holy Spirit asking for help to understand and retain that which the Lord wants them to learn and remember.
Both the teachers and the priest said afterwards how much they had enjoyed listening and learning about Our Lady of Guadalupe. Indeed, on Monday evening we received a wonderful thank you letter from the teacher leading the pilgrimage to Our Lady’s Relic Image. She said in an email to Guardian Andrew: “I just want to extend my huge thanks for your hospitality today. It was so lovely to meet all the Guardians, and to have such an intimate insight into the history of the beautiful Relic Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The students were very interested in your talk and the presentation and I believe they were truly moved during veneration…”