I’ve been lucky over the course of my life to visit quite a few of the major pilgrimage sites for Christians living in Europe. Lourdes, Canterbury, Taize, Rome, Fulda, Notre-Dame de Paris. All have their own charms. There are many I’d still love to visit: Compostela, at the end of the world famous Camino de Santiago; Fatima, with its links to the Virgin Mary; and, of course, the Holy Land, with all that it encompasses.

For English Christians of a certain persuasion though, and I include myself in that particular high church bracket, one postcode remains mystical to us all. NR22 6BP.


From Easter until the end of November, a little corner of England that is forever catholic is home to bands of pilgrims from all over the country. They come for many reasons. Some to receive the waters of the spring, reputed to have healing properties; some to offer prayers in the Holy House, at the foot of the statute of the Blessed Mother of Our Lord; others simply to have to time to sit, think and pray.

I’ve loved the place since I was very small. Too small, in fact, to realise what was actually going on there. I think it’s probably an important place for many ordinands, and indeed for those already ordained as well. It has changed immensely over the years, but retains the same message of devotion to a young girl who gave perhaps the ultimate example to ordinands: saying yes, and entrusting to God that everything would be OK.

She really was, and is, a remarkable Lady.

After the storm

I’ll admit, the feeling of being on Cloud 9 has now slightly dissipated, and I’m now spending more time thinking about the nitty-gritty of both theological study and the course that the rest of my life is now set upon.

It’s a strange place to be.

The well wishes and congratulations continue to pour in. It’s also a little different to be able to say “I’m going to train for ordination” than “I’m hoping to be able to train for ordination.” The affirmation is most uplifting.

But now there’s not really a huge amount to do. The practical things – leaving my current place, finishing at work, getting to where I’m going to be studying – are all things that will largely take care of themselves. But strangely enough, it doesn’t feel like I’ve got a lot be preparing for.

Isn’t that daft?