‘In the light of Christ vocational gifts are “ministries”, which express the different types of service which the Son has lived even to the gift of his life. In fact “he came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life?” Mt 20,28 Jesus is, therefore, the model for every ministry.’
In Verbo Tuo, 15
Members of the three branches: consecrated women and men and lay associates are engaged in various apostolates responding to the needs of the Church and the world which differ according to time and place and their own particular talents. As the community grows, structures need to develop so that they remain mission-orientated and encourage us to go out and share with others the joy of living in the Father’s love and friendship with Jesus. We cannot remain closed in on ourselves! We can only be authentic Christians if we are missionary disciples – each according to their state in life.
Married and single members who work in purely ‘secular’ environments are to embody the charism so that it shines forth in all they do. For if they live in depth the charism of COLW, others will see the joy and freedom with which they live their lives. This in turn will stir up questions in their own hearts and create an openness to Christ. Those with children will see as an important part of their vocation the education of their children – especially in helping them to grow in the freedom to say yes to the Father’s love and will as Jesus and Mary did.
Still others may be called to work directly with the consecrated members of the COLW in works such as spiritual accompaniment, giving retreats, youth work, supporting families and many other works of the apostolate, according to each one’s gifts and calling.
Currently our active apostolate involves:
- Offering hospitality at Walsingham, our spiritual home, by Running Dowry House retreat for the Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady and welcoming pilgrims at the Basilica. Listening with Mary to the needs of others, we carry Jesus to each person we meet. Like Mary, we also look for Jesus in everyone, desiring him to grow in both them and us. As the Holy House stood empty but welcoming, so we try to be empty of self so as to welcome and see the needs of the other.
- Working closely with the Bishop and according to Diocesan Vision Documents e.g. we are members of the Diocesan Vocations Team and the Commission for Marriage and Family Life. One of the sisters if Vicar for Female Religious.
- Offering retreats, conferences and courses, especially related to the spirituality of Walsingham.
- Exercising the ministry of spiritual accompaniment as “spiritual accompaniment must lead others ever closer to God, in whom we attain true freedom” (EG 170). Those who are called to this ministry are offered the training necessary to exercise it.
- Outreach to schools and parishes where we offer talks, retreats and, in the future, mini-missions.
- Supporting marriage and family life, which is especially undervalued in today’s society. Family days with guest speakers are organised to support parents in their vocation.
- Having a preferential option for the young, we do what we can to help children grow in their relationship with God e.g. running the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at Dowry House.
- Supporting in whatever way we can ‘Let the Children Live’, a charity under the patronage of Our Lady of Walsingham that assists street children in Colombia.
- As a Carmelite rooted community, we have a special care for priests, wishing to support them by our prayer and by offering them spaces for fellowship, rest and rejuvenation.
- Ecumenical and interfaith work; if we live our own lives to the full, we will automatically become people of joy and communion, who look for and see the good in others. Our aim should be that all people with whom we come into contact will sense that they are loved and accepted by us. In this way, we will become bridge-builders simply by our way of being. By showing something of the light and love of Christ, through, in and with him, we can help create an openness in others to getting to know him better. We are open to undertaking work with ecumenical and interfaith bodies and associations, which bring life, at a local and national level e.g. engagement in local Churches Together and collaboration with the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.
- Pro-life Work: COLW upholds the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. In the Annunciation we see that Mary welcomed life. Her yes was the source of her joy. Members of COLW may work with organisations in harmony with pro-life values e.g. supporting pregnant women, Fertility Care etc.
- At the end of life, we will all be called to that final ‘yes’ of total surrender; the yes to enter our heavenly home in the embrace of the Father. COLW will support people in the final part of their pilgrimage on earth, especially our own parents. This may involve visiting the sick and dying, particularly those who would otherwise be alone. We also hope to run a Catholic care home and hospice at Walsingham in future.
Ministry… or, some of the work we do.