A New Pilgrimage

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A New Pilgrimage

It’s a beautiful summer’s evening and I’ve just arrived back at Gumley to find a little group of FCJs who have just taken part in what I’m calling a New Pilgrimage.  Their aim was to follow the route that Marie Madeleine had followed that first time when she travelled from Somers Town to Isleworth to open a new boarding school ‘in the countryside’ outside London.  It was to be a place where young women would be educated, a place where perhaps some of them would hear and answer Jesus’ call to follow him and work for the spread of the gospel.  It would be a place too, where sisters from the central London school in Somers Town would escape from time to time, from the pollution and pressures of town life.  I’m calling this a New Pilgrimage simply because none of us had thought of making it a pilgrimage journey – until now!

Marie Madeleine, when she first came to Gumley in 1840 would have travelled those ten miles in a horse- drawn vehicle.  She would have passed by green fields and market gardens, and wide open spaces. When she bought the house in 1840, she described the garden enthusiastically in one of her letters – the shrubs, the flowers the birds and hens! “How I wish you were here even for a day!” she says.  I wonder what she thinks of it now – the built up areas with busy roads and overheated motorways, and planes flying low every two minutes, as they approach London Heathrow Airport.  But we still enjoy the beautiful gardens which are now the campus for the school she founded – a school which offers a Catholic education to over a thousand students.  Marie Madeleine would have been too humble to take pride in the work she began and which has continued so successfully until now, but I’m sure that she would be happy in the knowledge that Catholic education still flourishes in her beautiful gardens.

Our little group of 21st century FCJ pilgrims arrived at Gumley, after walking the final stretch of the pilgrimage along the river Thames.  They had planned the journey with times for prayer along the way and community members were delighted to welcome them and to join with them for their final pilgrimage prayer.

Naturally, they were hungry after all that prayer and beauty and walking, so we had the joy of sharing  some food with them as well as a little wine, before they left us again for their work in the city centre!

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3 Responses to “A New Pilgrimage”

  1. Clare fcJ Says:

    What a brilliant idea Bernie! I love the idea of “the new pilgrimage” and I hope that I will be able to make it someday. Thanks for creating it and for sharing it.

  2. MariJoxe Says:

    I also say: Thanks for sharing it…

  3. clarefcj Says:

    Thanks Mari Joxe…
    Perhaps one day we can make “The New Pilgrimage” together!

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