The Guardians are pleased to publish the full report of the pilgrimage visit to St Mary’s, West Croydon, which took place from Friday, 22nd June to Tuesday, 26th June 2018.
The Knights of St Columba and others came into their own when the van containing the Miraculous Relic Image and the repository arrived 90 minutes late, due to the traffic. It was all hands on deck to be ready for the Service of Reception at 6.30 pm, which did in fact start at 7.00pm. The service and the Guadalupe Mass which followed were full of joy: Fr Michael Scanlon, Parish Priest, was clearly delighted to have Our Lady in his church and had prepared his parishioners for the occasion several weeks in advance. The Relic Image was treated with great reverence by the clergy and a large team of altar servers. Guardian Barbara gave the Guardian’s address and both Guardians and Knights helped with the readings and prayers. The Mass finished around 9.15pm and veneration continued well beyond that.
Saturday began early for the Guardians. By 8.30am the Church began to fill up for the morning Mass and veneration of Our Lady’s Miraculous Relic Image. The Guardians and Knights of St Columba led the Morning Office. Later, after Mass, a reflection was given by the team on the on the Queenship of Our Lady at which veneration was continuous. Many of the pilgrims attending had come from different parts of London, Kent and beyond. The morning programme ended with the Angelus and the Rosary Chaplet led by the Knights of St Columba and the Parish Rosary Group. After lunch, Guardian Andrew gave the talk on Miraculous Relic Image and the Guadalupe apparitions, at which groups from Canterbury and Margate joined us. During the afternoon, our repository was very busy with the Our Lady of Guadalupe statues selling in record numbers.
The Knights of St Columba were at full stretch providing service to the record numbers of pilgrims who had come to venerate and take part in the programme.
The Vigil Mass was at 7.00pm, followed by a further talk on the Guadalupe apparitions, which many stayed on to hear. The first full day ended with evening prayer before Our Lady’s Image with veneration continuing until 9.30pm, due to the late arrival of a group of nurses who work in the local hospital.
Sunday we knew would be busy, as this is a church that has five regular Masses, with a congregation of up to 2,500 attending. We arrived at 7.30am to be greeted by a nearly full church waiting for the 8.00am Mass to start.
During the morning, veneration time was limited due to the proximity of the times of the four Masses, but many pilgrims returned or stayed on for veneration which began around 1.30pm. Guardians Michael and Mike were very busy, with the repository packed with eager pilgrims wishing to buy Guadalupe items before and after each Mass. We had brought with us an increased stock range and an extra till in expectation of large numbers of pilgrims.
The afternoon programme began with Guardian Andrew giving the talk on Miraculous Relic Image and the Guadalupe apparitions. Veneration continued, and a large group of pilgrims from the Orpington area arrived in time for the start of the extra Mass and the Healing Service that followed at 3.00pm. Father Michael was the Principal Celebrant. The packed church eagerly received his message of Our Lady’s unique place on the pathway to God’s Healing Power and heard his testimony and experience of God’s healing mission in his life as a Parish Priest. The climax of the profoundly moving Healing Service saw pilgrims come forward to kneel before Father Michael, who held the Monstrance as they touched the humeral veil and asked for forgiveness and healing and received the blessing. The service was scheduled to finish at 4.30pm, but due to the needs of the congregation, it was around 5.15pm before it closed. Public veneration continued with Litany of Our Lady of Guadalupe, leading into Mass at 6.00pm.
Guardian Michael led the evening reflection “A Catholic Conversion“, and veneration continued in numbers until 9.00pm with a group of about 20 joining us for closing players and the veiling of the Miraculous Relic Image for the night.
As always, Monday morning saw the visit of the local Catholic schools: this time Thomas More Catholic School and Regina Coeli Catholic Primary School, who had pre-booked their visits. After a telephone call to the school on the day, a large group of children from St Mary’s Infants and Juniors joined us, making a record total of around 250. Guardians Donna and Barbara gave two different PowerPoint presentations suited to the age of the children and young people, and answered questions. The children then had a chance to write petition slips, to venerate the Miraculous Relic Image and to have a refreshment break before returning to school. At noon, the Angelus and the Chaplet of Our Lady of Guadalupe were said.
After noonday Mass, Guardian Andrew gave the talk and reflection: “The Wonders of the Relic Image and the Guadalupe Apparitions“. Veneration followed until the reflection “Behold your Mother” led by Guardian Michael. The afternoon programme continued with a special service “Blessing of Families” led by Father Michael assisted by Fathers Celestine, Mark, and Deacon Vincent. In his moving homily, Father Michael talked about being the oldest of fourteen children and his failure as a young boy to live up to and accept the responsibility of setting an example for his younger siblings. He talked about the family Rosary and praying together as part of the daily routine within the home. The many families attending then came forward for a blessing.
After the Service ended, veneration continued and, by request, Guardian Andrew gave another of the Guadalupe talks. The well-attended evening programme included Mass, with the music including the hymn to Our Lady of Guadalupe led by the children’s choir. There was a reflection “The Call to Conversion” led by Guardian Michael. Veneration continued until 9.00pm with the usual number of pilgrims joining us for closing prayers and the veiling of the Miraculous Relic Image for the night.
The Church opened with morning prayers and the Guardians’ Office, followed by Stations of the Cross. Before Mass and the Service of Return, we were joined by a group of senior students who were unable to attend the Schools’ Morning the previous day. They were led by their Chaplain and came from St Mary’s Upper School.
Following Mass, we moved to the Service of Return. Father Michael returned the Miraculous Relic Image to the care of the Guardians. Guardian Andrew gave a short talk and reflection on the success and legacy of the pilgrimage visit.
Guardians Michael and Vincent presented the commemorative pictures of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Father Michael and to the Provincial Grand Knight Ken Martenstyn and to the local Council representatives Brothers Melvin and John as a memento of the pilgrimage visit.
Due to the numbers of pilgrims who remained behind after the Service of Return wishing to venerate or just to say goodbye we left, as usual, later than we intended, with a group of about forty pilgrims saying the Rosary and leaving rose petals in Our Lady’s travelling case to bring back to the Shrine in Bedford.
This had been one of our most successful pilgrimage visits with a record number of pilgrims attending from a wide area, including our highest number of school pupils to come to a church for the Schools’ and Young People’s Morning. We achieved record takings in our repository, selling out of most lines. We received very generous donations from the pilgrim congregation. For all (Guardians, Knights, Clergy and Pilgrims) this had been a deeply spiritual and uplifting occasion throughout. We look forward to returning to St Mary’s in West Croydon sometime in 2020.