Saturday 22 October 2016 was the most beautiful autumn morning as we met in the Hall at St Peter-in-Chains, Doncaster to have a cup of tea before starting our pilgrimage. St Peter-in-Chains is the most perfect spot for a mini pilgrimage as there is a Rosary and Way of the Cross garden. Each station has a stone from pilgrimage abbeys and churches up and down England. Our Lady of Doncaster was a major shrine on the way north on the Great North Road.
We finished our tea and 25 of us set off on our pilgrimage. Just as we reached our first stop the rain came down, which I was assured by one of my colleagues was the angels weeping in mercy. I wish they’d applauded with joy but at least they didn’t weep too long and we ended in the dry. We reflected, prayed and sang the hymns loudly and sweetly. As Vince, our leader, said, “We had the makings of a very good choir”. We also had help from Greg who played the guitar for us and covered up many of the not-so-good notes.
We ended by entering the Door of Mercy and completing our cards to share with refugees by the shrine of Our Lady of Doncaster. It was a very moving occasion and we all agreed a beautiful liturgy. We had representatives from all the major towns in the Diocese. Many of the attendees took a copy of the liturgy with them and are going to do the pilgrimage again in their own parishes.
Our solidarity with each other and the 65 million displaced people from their homes by war, persecution and hunger was complete. Perhaps the angels were telling us that a little suffering was good for us as we contemplated the incomparable suffering of those 65 million people.
Helen Donlan (Hallam J&P Commission Chair)