A Word from Fr Noel Wynn (Past Director, RC National Shrine, and main celebrant at the Founding Mass on 6th Jan 2004)

Our Lady’s Vocation

I have always been intrigued by how much Mary knew of God’s plan for her when she said “yes” to the angel. She was a young woman and we can assume that she was well brought up in the Jewish traditions. She would have known something of what the Scriptures said about the Messiah, but this could hardly have prepared her for the words of Gabriel: “Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.” She had one simple question to ask and was then reassured by the words of the angel: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow”. This was sufficient for her; she was able to say: “Let what you have said be done to me”.

This is a wonderful example of what we mean by “vocation“. A simple call from God – which was obviously not entirely clear to Mary at the time – a request for clarification, a promise of the help of the Spirit and then a definite answer, in the positive. If there were any doubts in the future they were dealt with simply – “she treasured these things and pondered them in her heart”.

Mary is the great example of someone who had a vocation and responded to it with faith and generosity. It is very appropriate, therefore, that a new religious congregation which wishes “to promote a vocational culture in the Church” should have such close links with the National Shrine of Our Lady in England which has had the Annunciation as its central message since the eleventh century.

The spirit of England’s Nazareth combined with a Carmelite spirituality will surely guide and encourage the members of the new Community of Our Lady of Walsingham in their search for personal holiness and in their desire to assist others in the discernment of their personal call from God-their vocation.