The South Yorkshire branch was very active throughout 2007. In May, it joined in an Orthodox celebration of the divine liturgy and a pilgrimage to Harpham in East Yorkshire, birthplace of St John of Beverley, who became Bishop of Hexham in 687, being later translated to York as Archbishop in 705, from which he retired in 714, dying in 721. He founded a minster at Beverly, the present building being constructed around his tomb. After the Orthodox eucharist at Harpham, the party travelled to Beverley where they heard the Minster choir rehearsing for evensong in this beautiful setting.
After this, five new members joined the Society.
In the Autumn, there were no less than four events.
In September we joined the Orthodox pilgrimage to Lastingham in North Yorkshire, to celebrate ‘The Nativity of Our Lady’. A monastery was founded there on the edge of the Moors, in 654, by St Cedd. A leaflet was kindly provided by our Chairman outlining the Divine Liturgy, which proved to be very useful to the members of our group of 16. In addition, the Vicar, Fr Ferguson, welcomed us and spoke briefly about the history of the Crypt and the Church of St Mary. We later travelled to nearby Pickering in superb weather, where members relaxed in various ways. Some visited an interesting ‘open day’ exhibition in the Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul, and to see the famous wall paintings of the 15th century, now fully restored. The return journey was enlivened by enthusiastic singing of hymns of Our Lady, and the reciting of the Rosary.
In October, a group of 14 made a pilgrimage to the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Egmanton near Tuxford, and just off the A1. This was led by Fr Kevin Smith, and attended by almost 100 pilgrims.
The Liturgy included The Angelus, Solemn Mass and Sermon. After lunch provided by the ladies of the village, we followed on with a solemn Magnificat, a procession into the village, and Benediction in the parish church and Shrine of our Lady, to conclude a most enjoyable ecumenical pilgrimage.
Also in October, we were invited to a talk in Sheffield entitled ‘Mary Grace and Hope in Christ’. This was given by Bishop Malcolm MacMahon of the RC Diocese of Nottingham, and he gave a stimulating insight into progress and the problems of ARCIC, of which he is a member. After the talk, group discussions followed by a Plenary Session, completed an excellent, informative and lively event. Bishop John Rawsthorne of the Diocese of Hallam, who chaired the meeting, had previously welcomed us and made mention of ESBVM before the talk. We made a number of ecumenical contacts, at this gathering.
Our AGM was held in November at the Orthodox Church of Saints Columba and Kentigern, in Edlington, Doncaster. Fr Dennis, our Chairman, led us as we prayed the Society’s Office. Our officers presented reviews on previous events, on our Finances (healthy), and on the input of a small ‘steering group’ which had been set up to recommend future Branch Strategy with particular regard for membership and activities. One early recommendation was to print a ‘Membership Leaflet’ more suited to Branch needs and local requirements. This has now been implemented, and has proved useful in publicising the Society, and in recruiting new members.
Our Officers were re-elected for another year, after which there was a short break for refreshments.
Our Chairman then gave an interesting talk on ‘The Mystical unity of the Church’, with emphasis on what we should be doing, and how we might work towards the unity for which Christ prayed. This was followed by a discussion on the current problems, with the view expressed that unity would only really move forward when it to become stronger at local church level. The meeting closed after over two hours of enthusiastic participation by those who attended what was in effect, a comprehensive and positive review of our Branch and its activities.
In the second week of Advent, we joined with the Mothers’ Union at St Oswald’s for an Advent devotion Beyond the Corridors of Grace, produced by our Treasurer, Merelina. This was a delightful service of readings, prayers and hymns, supported by organ, cello and piano music. Over fifty people attended, the Society being well represented. Over £100 was raised for a mother and baby home in Ghana.
Our plans for events in 2008 are as follows
Monday January 21st – Dunscroft St Edwin’s Church. Near Doncaster
To celebrate the ‘Week of Prayer for Christian Unity’. We have an invitation from Father Alan Watson and our members at St Edwin’s to join them for Mass at 7.00pm. Refreshments afterwards and an opportunity to meet members and other interested parishioners. Rev. Fr. Richard Power, Vicar of Moorends, will preach.
February – Sheffield. 26 years under Mary’s mantle. Talk by Sister Ruth Bleakley OCV. Details later.
Tuesday March 11th – Mass at 12.45 including the Liturgy of Anointing, at St Marie’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Sheffield. This will be followed by refreshments, then a talk and short tour of the cathedral. This should be of historical interest, both marian and ecumenical.
Saturday May 10th – Pilgrimage to Mount Grace Priory and The Lady Chapel at Osmotherley in North Yorks. The Society Office in the restored Monks’ Cell at Mount Grace. At 12 Noon. Vigil Mass at the Lady Chapel 3.30pm. Refreshments afterwards. Tea in Thirsk on return. A special Invitation will be sent to individual members residing in North Yorkshire. We thank Fr Hilary Alflatt for setting up this event.
Saturday July 19th – Pilgrimage to Crowland Abbey near Peterborough.
August – Pilgrimage to Egmanton near Tuxford. Shrine of Our Lady.
September – Pilgrimage to Lastingham in North Yorks. Orthodox Eucharist. Visit to Pickering afterwards.
October – Sheffield. Talk, ‘The Methodist approach to Mary’. Provisional.
November – Branch AGM. To be arranged.
Tuesday December 16th – 2.00pm. Advent Service, St Oswald’s. Abbeydale Road, Sheffield. Invitation from the Mothers Union and our members at St. Oswald’s Anglican Church.