Westminster Youth Ministry is excited to present an all new pilgrimage programme, The Dowry of Mary Through the Steps of the English Martyrs. This programme will take young people to some of the most important sites for the Catholic Church in this country, guiding them on an interactive journey towards a closer personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
The Summer Pilgrimage Programme is an 8-day programme comprising of day trips, retreat time, and personal and spiritual formation. See the programme outline below:
On day 1, we look to the example set out to us by the martyrs, particularly in the lives of St Thomas Becket and St Thomas More, in preparation for visits to the Tower of London, Tyburn and Canterbury Cathedral larter in the week.
With the first part of this day giving the young pilgrims the opportunity to study the lives and witness of these two saints, in the afternoon they will be invited to respond creatively to what they have learned, asking themselves the question: ‘How can I emulate these saints in my life, and what significance do they have for me today’?
Finally, the day will end with a penitential evening, providing a chance for the pilgrims to ready themselves to be open to God for the duration of the following days of the pilgrimage.
With a busy day of exploring English Martyrs, a relaxing movie night will give the pilgrims a chance to unwind before a busy day ahead in central London.
On this retreat we will get to know Mary by exploring her story and spending time with her by taking part in discussions, acting, quiz and workshops.
Get to know Mary by taking part in discussions, acting out key events in her life, and inviting her to share in our experience, including outdoor activities and small creative projects. The day will be rounded off with a quiz and a Rosary workshop.
On day 3 of the programme we will explore the notion of England as Mary’s Dowry, especially in the light of the martyrs. This day is an ‘away day’ involving a trip to Central London to visit Tower Hill, Trinity Square Gardens, and then Westminster Cathedral, and is a day in which we will explore the life of St Thomas More in his final days.
With the day beginning in the tepid surroundings of Trinity Square Gardens around the busy hustle and bustle of the City of London, there is no better place to start the day than this reflective site in which St Thomas More was martyred.
From here, we will embark forwards together towards the Tower of London, a place steeped in history, and significant to St Thomas More’s final days, with this being the location of his imprisonment and final burial place.
We then do a procession along the Thames towards Westminster Cathedral from the Tower, during which we will pray the Rosary.
Having the opportunity to visit Westminster Cathedral in the heart of the London, the pilgrims will enjoy a delicious lunch especially prepared for them, in the downstairs dining area of the cathedral itself. After enjoying this splendid time of fellowship together around the dinner table, the pilgrims will have an opportunity to further explore England’s Mother Church in their own slot of free time.
The final leg of the journey begins in the side chapels of the cathedral, significantly attributed to the English Martyrs. Considering the journey the pilgrims have shared during the morning, this time together to reflect on the English Martyrs will tie in the significance of Thomas More’s life as an English Martyr, in addition to the martyrs of Tyburn, with this being the next stop for the cohort of pilgrims.
After visiting the site of the Tyburn Tree, and Exposition in the neighbouring convent, the day will conclude with a short prayer together, before the pilgrims depart back to the centre for a dinner together.
Day 4 will take us on another excursion, this time to Canterbury to spend some more time learning about St Thomas Becket.
We will journey to Canterbury by coach, and then spend the day visiting important sites in the life of the saint, before returning to the retreat centre in Pinner in time for dinner.
King Henry II appointed St. Thomas Becket as chancellor of England from 1155 to 1262 and was archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 to 1170. He was born in London in 1118 and died in Canterbury on December 29 1170. St Thomas Becket’s career was marked by a long quarrel with Henry that ended with Becket’s murder in Canterbury Cathedral which we have the opportunity to visit. Canterbury Cathedral is the cathedral of the archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Church of England and symbolic leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Located in Kent it is one of the oldest Christian structures in England and form part of a World Heritage Site. We have the amazing opportunity of visiting the Cathedral and hopefully with some time to spare the local area!
Fun Fact: The altar here at SPEC in our chapel’s altar contains a relic of St Thomas Becket who was nearby Harrow about a fortnight before his martyrdom in Canterbury.
This day is focused on deepening our relationship with Mary, Queen of Martyrs.
On this day we make a pilgrimage to the national Marian shrine, Walsingham.
Come and visit one of the most holy places in England. The events at Walsingham unfolded thanks to a woman with a deep and heartfelt devotion to Our Lady. The Shrine of Walsingham is home to the site of the replica of the Holy House of Nazareth and is steeped in English religious history.
Come to discover and learn about the history of this holy place and grow closer to our Mother Mary, learning especially about the invitation to all of us to a ‘white martyrdom’ (sacrificing one’s life not by shedding blood but by giving one’s life over to God in lifetime service).
Walk through the halls and grounds of Warwick Castle and travel through English history. Explore the castle that was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 and walked by Queen Elizabeth II nearly 1000 years later in 1996. The castle has incredible grounds that is the home to peacocks and over 60 different species of birds of prey who love to put on a show for visitors. Spend some time exploring the different state rooms the castle offers, and the personal armour collection of the Earl of Warwick from the 17th century.
On this day out we will have the chance to walk through English religious history and learn about the Reformation.
This, our final full day in the programme, will give us a chance to put ourselves in the quiet presence of the Lord in the Eucharist to process all that we have learnt and experienced over this long week. There will be time to share testimonies, rest, and share a meal together… in the form of a BBQ of course!
Pack-up and goodbyes!