The Union of Catholic Mothers

Welcome to Walsingham 2015

The Union of Catholic Mothers 70th Annual Pilgrimage to

The National Shrine of Our Lady Walsingham

July 2015

Mary, Mother of Silence


Over eight hundred members of the Union of Catholic Mothers and their families came together for the seventieth pilgrimage at Walsingham which took place from 6th - 7th July.  To celebrate this occasion, all were asked to wear a white rose. This was Mrs Val Ward's first official duty at a UCM occasion as our National President. East Anglia UCM, led by the Diocesan President, Mrs Maria Taverna, was the lead diocese. Bishop Alan Williams SM joined us at Walsingham in his first official role as our Ecclesiastical Advisor and both he and Bishop Alan Hopes of East Anglia celebrated The Service of Light on Monday evening and Mass on Tuesday morning; both services took place in The Chapel of Reconciliation.   We also welcomed Monsignor John Armitage, the new Rector of the Walsingham Shrine.

On Monday evening the Statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was carried into the Sanctuary by Mrs Mary Piper, National Vice President, Mrs Brigid Hegarty, National Welfare Officer, Mrs Maureen Hurst, National Public Service Officer, and Mrs Irene Mitchell, National Secretary. Mrs Val Ward lit the Pilgrimage Candle during the Adoration and Benediction and then many members took part in the torchlight procession along the Pilgrims Way to the gardens of Elmham House. As one member from Liverpool commented - 'The Candlelit Procession is a joy walking through the beautiful countryside'. Those who could not take part in the procession made their way back to the Pilgrim Bureau and waited for walkers in the garden, praying the rosary silently.

Another first took place on Tuesday at our Mass as it was the first live Mass screened at Walsingham, a wonderful occasion which was not marred by the rain showers. The concelebrated Mass began with the hymn 'All are welcome' and indeed all ladies who are in sympathy with our Aims and Objectives, are welcome in The Union of Catholic Mothers. The Reading read by Mrs Val Ward was from St Paul's letter to the Galatians; the Prayers of the Faithful, composed by East Anglia UCM, were read by Mrs Maureen Hurst, National Public Service Officer. During the Mass a Novena of Masses was presented to The Union of Catholic Mothers by Monsignor John Armitage to celebrate our 70th pilgrimage to Walsingham; this was gratefully accepted by Mrs Val Ward. Monsignor John Armitage then challenged UCM members to each bring two guests to Walsingham next year. The Silent Procession along the Holy Mile took place after lunch. One member from Salford commented 'once again, I was overcome with emotion as the bell tolled for us to start our silent procession and all one could hear were leaves rustling and birds twittering. It takes me back hundreds of years when our forefathers trod the same path - barefoot, deep in prayer'  Bishop Lindsay Urwin, the administrator of the Anglican Shrine joined the procession. Bishop Lindsay is leaving Walsingham in the autumn, returning to Australia, and the UCM were delighted he was able to join their festivities. The statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was carried along the High Street in Walsingham by members of East Anglia UCM but later carried to the site of the original shrine by Leeds UCM. Mrs Val Ward led us in our UCM prayer followed by her Address. Many members have commented that her Address was uplifting and inspiring and that we should all take on board her call for action on recruitment.    Bishop Alan Williams SM then led us with the Renewal of Commitment. Bishop Alan Hopes led us in Benediction and offered a Reflection. t was a joyous, most spiritual and memorable pilgrimage. Another first was welcoming Charlene Gabriel from Bermuda who was enrolled into The Union of Catholic Mothers by Father Michael Murray, Shrewsbury's Spiritual Advisor. It was an emotional occasion and we are delighted that Charlene is returning home hoping to begin UCM in Bermuda. Changes are happening in Walsingham. There is a three year development plan for Our Lady's Shrine and they plan to invest ?6 million in buildings and accommodation and ?4 million in developing the work of the Shrine.

Year 1 Preparing for the New Evangelisation, 2015 - 2016

Year 2 Inspired by The Year of Mercy, 2016 - 2017

Year 3 Ever Ancient 1061 - Ever New 2015, 2017 -2018

The detailed plans may be found on the Walsingham website:


The Liturgy Booklet was compiled by Mrs Val Ward and the Walsingham Sub Committee and it included a special feature of the History of Walsingham and details of the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Our thanks go to the Walsingham Sub Committee, Mrs Maureen Smith, Administrator, Mrs Angel Mellors, Treasurer, Miss Elizabeth Dunn, committee member and Mrs Paddy Roberts, committee member for all their hard work in ensuring that we had a beautiful pilgrimage; also to Mrs Anne Emblem for arranging transport to bring Charlene Gabriel to Walsingham and to the Westminster ladies for ensuring her safe return to London.   East Anglia UCM lead by Mrs Maris Taverna also worked very hard over the few days, thank you. Unfortunately Mrs Caroline Mills, National Media Officer, was unable to join us at Walsingham; luckily Michael Babalola, Mrs Claudette Turner's nephew (Brentwood's Diocesan Treasurer) took many photographs to record our pilgrimage, thank you Michael, your support is very much appreciated.


Irene Mitchell

National Secretary

President's welcome in the Walsingham Booklet

Dear fellow pilgrims

Welcome to our 70th annual pilgrimage to Walsingham. Like many of you I have been coming here for many years; however this is my first as National President. The theme for this year is 'Mary, Mother of Silence'.

We are delighted at the appointment of Bishop Alan Williams of Brentwood as the new Ecclesiastical Advisor to The UCM and I expect many of you will know him already, as the previous Rector of the Shrine here in Walsingham. We welcome the lead diocese of East Anglia with their Bishop, Alan Hopes and Diocesan President, Mrs Maria Taverna. We would also like to welcome the new Rector of the Walsingham Shrine, Monsignor John Armitage.

Thank you to all who work so hard to make our time here fruitful. There is so much noise and bustle in our lives let us embrace the peace of this Holy Place.

As I write this, the reading for this Sunday is from Samuel (3:3-10,19) and God is calling Samuel in the silence of the night. Samuel says 'Speak, Lord your servant is listening'. As we walk the Holy Mile let us use the gift of silence to listen to the voice of God, allow our souls to rest in the peace of Christ and offer our prayers and hearts to Him through our Blessed Lady - Mary, Mother of Silence.

I hope you enjoy the peace and tranquillity of Walsingham and share the special blessings and graces you receive here with those you love.

Thank you for joining me on this pilgrimage and I hope you all have a safe journey home.

Please remember me in your prayers.

Val Ward

National President

Reading on Monday evening by Maria Taverna,

Diocesan President of East Anglia

Mother of silence, who watches over the mystery of God,
Save us from the idolatry of the present time, to which those who forget are condemned.
Purify the eyes of Pastors with the
tears of memory:
Take us back to the freshness of the origins, for a prayerful, penitent Church.

Mother of the beauty that blossoms from faithfulness to daily work,
Lift us from the torpor of laziness, pettiness, and defeatism.
Clothe Pastors in the compassion that unifies, that makes whole; let us discover the joy of a humble, brotherly, serving Church.

Mother of tenderness who envelops us in patience and mercy,
Help us burn away the sadness, impatience and rigidity of those who do not know what it means to belong.
Intercede with your Son to obtain that our hands, our feet, our hearts be agile: let us build the Church with the Truth of love.
Mother, we shall be the People of God, pilgrims bound for the Kingdom.

Adapted from the prayer to Mary after the Profession of Faith with the Bishops of the Italian Episcopal Conference.      (23rd May 2013)




Here in Walsingham, we celebrate that God humbled himself to become man in the person of Jesus Christ, through the working of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Here in the Blessed Sacrament, we celebrate that through the promise of Jesus to abide with his Church until the end of time, through the working of the Holy Spirit and the prayer of the Church, Jesus Christ is once more mysteriously present amongst us- an extension of the Incarnation.

Here in this Sacrament of Love, we encounter Jesus Christ anew and experience once again his healing and transforming power and love just as the people did whilst he was on earth. It is beyond our understanding and yet each one of us can witness to the truth of this in our own lives, as we contemplate our Saviour today in the depth and silence of our own hearts.

In this moment of Eucharistic adoration, our eyes are drawn to the Host in the Monstrance - it is our Risen Lord; and our hearts begin to burn within us as we come to recognise and acknowledge his Presence here, like those disciples whose hearts burned within them as the Risen Lord walked with them to Emmaus and whose eyes were opened at the Breaking of the Bread.

Here in His Presence, as we gaze at Him and He gazes at us, we share with Him our inmost hopes, our fears, our joys and oour sorrows and we bring into His presence all for whom we need to pray today.

The One we worship here is not some remote power. He himself has knelt before us to wash our feet. That gives our adoration hope and joy because we are bowing down before the One who has bowed down before us; and in bowing down we are entering into the love of our Saviour, a love which heals, transforms and saves. Let us ask the Lord to make us more aware of this wonderful exchange, so that what we receive from Him may radiate into our daily lives and into the lives of those we encounter. Then we can take the love of God which we have encountered here back to our homes, to our communities, to our workplaces and to our UCM groups and speak of the great things the Lord has done for each one of us.

The Blessed Sacrament calls us to stop.

The Blessed Sacrament calls us to ponder.

The Blessed Sacrament calls us to wonder.

The Blessed Sacrament calls us to worship.

As we kneel before Him in adoration let us once again pledge our obedience to the Lord.

Alan Hopes

Bishop of East Anglia


My Lord Bishops, Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, and members - Hello and Welcome.

It is good for us all to be together to celebrate 70 years of pilgrimage of the Union of Catholic Mothers at Our Lady's shrine here at Walsingham.

East Anglia is a very special place for me as my mother was brought up in Norwich and I always feel especially close to her when I am here.

I know many of us come here every year to honour our Blessed Mother Mary, to walk the Holy Mile and take the peace and tranquillity of this beautiful place back home to our family and friends.

Our Centenary celebrations are now behind us and we thank God for all the joys and graces The Union of Catholic Mothers has received during the last 100 years; and we give thanks for the people who have gone before us and led us through good times and bad with their passion and enthusiasm for our organisation. The world, 100 years ago, bears very little resemblance to the world in which we live today. The pressures and strains faced by many families today are totally different than those experienced by our predecessors, however families have always been at the heart of UCM and continue to be so.

We now begin the next chapter of the UCM story as we begin the journey together into the next 100 years.  For some time now our membership has been gradually reducing and in order for there to be a repeat of the wonderful celebrations of 2013 in 2113 we need to work together to protect and increase our membership. As committed members of The Union of Catholic Mothers we know how much it means to us all, we know the blessings and joys we receive by belonging to this wonderful organisation, we know of the lifelong friendships that are formed, we know of the powerhouse of prayer that is always available to each and every one of us and we know the difference we can make to our world by our involvement and association with other like minded organisations. 

So where do we start? This is no easy task and is not for the fainthearted. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just maintain our membership numbers for this year; hold fast to what we have and actively work to protect our individual foundations?  Small steps but massive enthusiasm! If we could all re commit ourselves to what the UCM stands for then we can and will succeed. We have to trust and tap into that powerhouse of prayer to guide and direct us into the future.

Over the coming months the National Committee will be looking at ways of improving our communication channels with everyone. We will seek to help and support our dioceses as dioceses seek to help and support foundations. All information is to be shared with all members so they can feel a strong bond with both diocesan and national officers. Nothing should be secret. Grassroots members are the lifeblood of our organisation and we want to see as many of them as possible at National events in order for them to see for themselves the work undertaken on their behalf and spread the word. We all work together for the good of our UCM. 

The National Committee are willing to listen to your concerns and help whenever and wherever we can; however this must be a two way process. We cannot do anything alone. We must all stand together and strive to build strong foundations with committed members to enable us to move forward and leave a lasting legacy to those who will follow us.

I know many are concerned about the lack of young members. As I said earlier, the pressures today are very different from those of our mothers and grandmothers, and many mothers juggle home life and young children with demanding work schedules; but children are not little forever! Sometimes it can be many years before mothers have time they can call their own and when they do - The UCM can be ready and waiting with open arms and hearts to welcome them.

Pope St John XXIII once wrote, 'Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Do not think about your frustrations, but instead think about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do'.

My thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to bring this pilgrimage to fruition and my thanks to you all for coming and praying together.

I wish you all a safe journey home in the peace and love of Mary, Mother of Silence.

Thank you for listening.

 Val Ward

National President



Pope`s Intentions for July 2017

Intentions that Pope Francis wants us to pray for this month