September 29, 2010. London, England. The Holy Father’s visit to the United Kingdom made an undeniable impact on the British people. In spite of the hostility and mediocre turnout that were expected, people came in droves and listened respectfully to what the Pope had to say. By all accounts, the visit was a success. Read a day-by-day chronicle of the Holy Father´s visit or visit the associated photo gallery.
During and after the event, Regnum Christi member Karen McDonald gathered input from fellow pilgrims, mainly Regnum Christi members and Legionaries, who attended the events. These were their impressions.
Br James Shekelton LC: I was born in England and lived here until I joined the Legion. During the last 5 years I have been in Mexico working with young people and families. I was quite surprised and filled with joy by what we witnessed during the days of the Holy Father’s visit. To see so many people, especially young people, lining the streets and showing such enthusiasm in the living of their faith is very inspiring. I think that all cultures pass through moments of difficulty in the living of the faith and sometimes it seems as though there is a great darkness, and how easy it is to despair! In the case of England I think that we are beginning maybe a new springtime in what refers to the faith. Those who have spent the months prior to the Holy Fathers visit criticizing him and attacking the Church have been totally taken aback by what they saw. It is a message to us as English Catholics and to the whole world that Christ lives in his Church and needs us to correspond and never be afraid of being witnesses to him. Now more than never before, Christ and his Church need generous men and women to preach the message of the Gospel. Hopefully during the coming weeks and months we can continue to reflect upon the discourses of His Holiness, keeping fresh in our minds and hearts these thoughts that have inspired us so much in these days.
Boy from Youth Prison: A young offender said to his chaplain after seeing the Pope on television, “Father, I heard the Pope speak… he is different to what I imagined… I thought he would scream at us and would be angry… But he was instead full of love and peace and sounded so kind!”
Fr Peter Shekelton LC: It was a very moving and profound moment of hope for the Church in Britain – a sign for all to recognise and respond to, Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The concelebration was a moment of great clerical unity, with at least a thousand priests gathered around their shepherd. Indeed, it was a gift of the Spirit.
Therese: It´s been over 400 years since England had a saint, and now we have Cardinal John Henry Newman beatified.
Kay O’Connor: During his visit, Pope Benedict came across very much as a concerned Father and Shepherd. He wanted us to remember and commit to what is important in our lives, the Truth. This line from his homily in Glasgow sums it up: “There is only one thing that lasts: the love of Jesus Christ personally for each one of you.”
Fr Martin Connor, LC: We were all privileged to be part of this historical moment for England….and needed the encouragement from the Successor of Peter to keep fighting to be those witnesses to the world of a different “style” of life, a vibrant life-giving alternative to the present malaise of the heavy and empty self seeking which is closes the human heart in on itself. The blood of the martyrs at Tyburn was not shed in vain but is NOW bearing fruit with the very visit of the Vicar of Christ himself to the people of England. We were witnesses to this during his visit.
John Shekelton: Even the most skeptical could not fail to be impressed by the enthusiasm and fervour with which the Holy Father was greeted. Among the most salient and impressive moments were the periods of silence, during exposition in Hyde Park and following communion at Crofton Park. Where else, in this day and age, can one experience such a phenomena in a crowd of people estimated in the 10´s of thousands?
Helena Shekelton: I was so impressed with the many young people who came to be with the Holy Father – 3 coach-loads from Salford Diocese alone! How very reflective and prayerful the Hyde Park event was. The Beatification Mass itself was as though we were in church. Among the many poignant moments, the most impressive were the periods of silence during exposition in Hyde Park and after communion at Crofton Park; this itself speaks volumes for the commitment and devotion especially of the young people.