The visit to the Francisan Friars of the Renewal, Bradford had been planned for several years, but due to the pandemic, it had been postponed.  It finally took place on the weekend of 9th/10th April 2022 to form part of the preparation for Holy Week. 

Guardians Donna and Barbara with Donna’s husband, Graeme, acting as van driver, set off at 7 am on the Saturday, arriving at Bradford at around 9.45 am.  We were warmly greeted by Fr Columba Jordan and some of the other friars who helped us to unload the van and place the Relic Image at the front of St Patrick’s church, next to a beautiful bronze sculpture of ‘Padre Pio’, St Pio of Pietrelcina.  

The Friars

This large church in the centre of Bradford has recently been restored and with its many statues and beautiful stained glass windows, was the perfect setting for our first Pilgrimage visit this year.  With the assistance of the Friars, the Leeds Diocese has invested a great deal of time and resources to the restoration project and the success of this collaboration is evident.  You may be interested to learn more about the project in a BBC programme about the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal at St Patrick’s, Bradford called:  FROM THE BRONX TO BRADFORD.

The Friars were particularly pleased to welcome the Relic Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as she is the Patroness of their order and their ministry of evangelisation.  Indeed Pope Saint John Paul II declared Our Lady of Guadalupe to be the Star of the New Evangelisation.

The day began with Holy Hour at 11 am with Exposition and confessions available.  People had come from as far away as Newcastle, as well as from Wakefield, Leeds, other towns in the area and Bradford itself.  The repository was busy with people buying statues and rosaries, as well as taking our new series of leaflets, prayer cards and Life cards. 

Mass was at 12.15 pm, which included the formal reception of the Relic Image.  Fr Columba (who is also the Rector), Fr Christopher, Fr Jacob and Fr Frantisek concelebrated.  Brother John played the keyboard and led the singing beautifully for us.  Many people waited to venerate the Relic Image and place petition slips in the box at Our Lady’s feet. This was followed by a welcome lunch break with people bringing their own lunches and the Friars with a team of helpers providing tea and cakes.

At 2 pm we offered the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary for Life and Families, and at 2.30 pm the Sorrowful Mysteries for peace in the Ukraine.  At 3 pm there was the Chaplet for Divine Mercy and after this Donna gave a talk about the history and symbolism of the Relic Image and some interesting facts.  After this, pilgrims young and old were able to venerate the Relic Image and write their petition slips to put in the box.  There was then a further Holy Hour with exposition and confessions between 4 pm and 6 pm when the church closed for the night. 

Donna, Barbara and Graeme stayed overnight and enjoyed a wonderful dinner cooked by the Friars, night prayer, morning prayer, early Sunday Mass including a Palm Sunday procession with palm branches, and breakfast with the Friars.  We were very grateful for the warm hospitality of the Friars and there was much joy and laughter around the table.  We were sad to leave, but with the Friars’ help we loaded the van and set off at 12.30 pm for the journey back to the Shrine in Bedford with the blessing of Fr Christopher, Brother John, Brother Jonathon and Brother Angelo as they waved us off.

Our grateful thanks to Marian in Bradford for the lovely photographs she took during the visit, some of which can be seen here.