Parish Pilgrimage following the
Footsteps of the Saints of the North East
From the 6th until 9th June 2016, twenty-six people
from St Albans enjoyed being based at The Shepherd's Dene
Retreat Centre in Riding Mill, Northumberland, just south of the River
The pilgrims outside Shepherd's Dene Retreat Centre
The Shepherds Dene
is a retreat centre run by the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle. It is a tranquil
and peaceful place, set in beautiful countryside.
Dinner at The Shepherd's Dene Retreat Centre
When one goes on a
retreat or a pilgrimage one would expect to return slimmer – not so at Shepherd’s
Dene; the evening meal was superb and the more than adequate packed lunch
We were blessed by
having with us Fr Tom, so we could have Mass each day, mainly in the house
but once on Lindisfarne (Holy Island). We were blessed, also, by good weather
(something Northumberland is not noted for – however, it more than makes
up for this by the scenery, both in the countryside and on the coast; together
with its many castles).
During the (very full) three days, efficiently organised by Richard and
Melanie O’Neill, we enjoyed visits on the Tuesday to St Peter’s (Saxon)
Church at Monkwearmouth, St Peter’s Saxon Church at Jarrow, learning about
The Venerable Bede; and to Hexham Abbey in the afternoon.
On Wednesday we went to Escomb Church in the morning and then to Durham
Cathedral in the afternoon, for a conducted tour of the Cathedral following
the journeys of St Cuthbert and St Aidan.
On the Thursday, the highlight of the week, we journeyed through Northumberland
to Lindisfarne, having followed the footsteps of Saints Aidan and Cuthbert,
where we were able to enjoy Mass in St Aidan’s Catholic Centre, celebrated
by Fr Tom. After tea and cake we were free to explore Holy Island; to explore
the ruins of the monastery, the church of St Mary, St Cuthbert’s island
(a small islet alongside Holy Island, where St Cuthbert could go for even
more peace and quiet) and the island’s lovely coast line.
Fr Tom saying Mass
A Tombstone Puzzle at Escomb
In the afternoon
we boarded our coach to visit Bamburgh, to visit St Aidan’s church there;
to visit Grace Darling’s tomb in its cemetery; to enjoy the beauty of the
town and the grandeur of the magnificent castle.
Each evening we enjoyed DVDs of the saint’s stories and on one evening
we had a speaker who balanced the mainly male saint’s stories with St Hilda’s
story and her influence in bringing together the Northern and Southern factions
of (Catholic) Christianity at the Synod of Whitby.
St Cuthbert's body arriving at Durham
Sadly, most of us had to come home to St Albans on the Friday morning,
after a few days of adventure, prayer and one or two mishaps (happily resolved).
We hope you enjoy some of our photos
Again, thanks are tendered to the organisers of such an enjoyable pilgrimage.