Lenten pilgrimage proves a trip down memory lane

By Helen Jones

When Father Ravi Bosco approached me to assist in organising a Lenten pilgrimage for Divine Saviour parish in Runcorn, Shrewsbury Diocese – praying 14 Stations of the Cross in 14 different Liverpool churches – I was somewhat unnerved, having just begun my ministry as pastoral associate for Liverpool South.

Runcorn New Town, which Divine Saviour parish serves, was populated by many who had been encouraged to move out of Liverpool during the 1960s. It was with these roots in mind that the Lenten pilgrimage, to relive memories from those Liverpool communities, was envisaged.

Parishes in the pastoral area and environs responded warmly to the request and thanks to them a route was ready for Saturday 30 March: St Francis of Assisi, Garston; St Anthony of Padua, Mossley Hill; St Clare, Sefton Park; St Charles, Aigburth; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Toxteth; St Patrick, Toxteth; St Vincent de Paul, St James Street; St Francis Xavier, Salisbury Street; St Anne, Edge Hill; Sacred Heart, Low Hill; St Philip Neri, Catherine Street; St Anthony of Egypt, Scotland Road; and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, St Domingo Road, with the 14th Station at the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Our common thread was connectedness – connecting the neighbouring dioceses of Shrewsbury and Liverpool, reconnecting with former Liverpool parishes, remembering deceased families and friends in each church, strengthening bonds between the individual churches that make up Divine Saviour parish (Our Lady’s, St Augustine’s and St Martin’s) and linking up with parishes in Liverpool, themselves often merged.

Deep-rooted faith was articulated in the testimonies of the pilgrims: First Communions at St Francis’, weddings at St Patrick’s, prayer during school lunchtimes at St Clare’s, memories of former parishioners and priests, times of togetherness, times of belonging, times of connection.

Our sincere gratitude goes to the participating parishes for their warm welcome, and to clergy, pastoral assistants and the wonderful Liverpool parishioners for their support, historical input, participation and refreshments. It was a day full of prayer, memories and fellowship, connecting each one of us with our Catholic faith and with each other in a very special way.