Hi Folks! Its me again – this time about a small community pilgrimage to Birmingham!
As pilgrimages are an ancient tradition of the church, and in normal circumstances a person will make that pilgrimage to a Holy place, to visit a sacred site where God has chosen to reveal himself, or birth place of a saint or walking in the footsteps of a saint, but in this case to coincide with the year of Priests the patron saint of missions – St. Thérèse is herself making a pilgrimage. She, who prayed for priests and wrote to them comes to help us.
With the visit of St. Therese’s relics to England and Wales between Sept 16th and Oct 16th, they were at Birmingham, firstly at St. Chad’s Cathedral from sat 19th Oct till Monday 21st then got transferred to a parish in Coleshill in Birmingham from mon – tues morning. So it was with great privilege to have been able to go and venerate St. Thérèse. This is because mother abbess gave permission for us to do so. We set off as a community – just after 10am on Monday morning in two cars and arrived at just after 11am, so once we found our way to the entrance of the door of the church of The Sacred Heart and St. Theresa, there was a queue of people and we joined them. We were quickly led to some seating – which we didn’t let go of as the church was quickly filling – and had 40 minutes to wait until mass started. During this time confessions were going on and private veneration of St. Thérèse was in process. The church was absolutely packed with at least 7 people in a pew, and two rows of people standing at the side of the church isles, also people were standing outside the church itself and the numbers far surpassed what they were expecting. The church itself was decorated and scented with all types of flowers ranging from red roses, chrysanthemums, lilies, carnations etc…. On arriving (apparently there was a notice which i did not see), which ran with Thérèse’s quote of herself, ‘i shall spend my heaven doing good on earth’. This was picked up by Bishop McGough regarding the packed church, as she was drawing people by her little way to God. Also, he remarked that ‘it was the 1st time he had to find his way to the pulpit to deliver his homily due to the amount of people’, this, as was expected, raised a laugh. One of the things the bishop asked us to do after we left the church was to find something which was individual to us and make it a part of ‘our little way’ eg, a smile, or a good deed to someone else, and to do it lovingly – for God. After mass was over we then went up to venerate the relics, people were taking photos so i did myself – we also spotted St. Thérèse’s side chapel in which there was a relic which people could go up to and kiss – we did – as it was pointed out to us by the parish priest, it was an awesome occasion! After this we then went and found a quiet spot and had our sandwiches, i tried to slip round quickly and take a few photos of the church etc…. and that was all i got – a few photos!!! During this free moment we also met up with two Carmelites and these were 2 of 7 people who were ‘custodians’ and going round with the relics.
It is always amazing that when you go out of the monastery you think you will never see anyone you know – and what happens????? There was loads of people we knew, and if someone took a photo of us then we found more people coming and taking photos…. so there was a quick photo session… all in all – a good day!!!! We had a short time there and had to leave at 3pm and i would have liked to have longer there as there was holy hour followed by benediction, but it was a grand occasion and a great privilege to have made this small pilgrimage to Birmingham………something to remember in future years and will go down in our history…….
All i can say is : St. Thérèse – pray for us
And now we look forward greatly for the Holy Father’s visit to Britain next year!
By Sr. Davina
Click on the following link to see some of our photos of the occasion: