On Sunday 8 May pilgrims from across the diocese gathered at the Shrine of Our Lady of Willesden for the annual May street procession. Starting from the Shrine Church, they prayed the Rosary and sang Marian hymns as they made their way through the streets, making their own prayers, and remembering the intentions of the pilgrimage: for our diocese, and for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted for their Faith.
By tradition the pilgrimage pauses for a rest at the Convent of Jesus and Mary where, on this scorching day, we were offered cooling water, as well spiritual food in the homily which this year was given by Fr Gabriele Brusco LC, Assistant Priest at the Shrine.
He spoke about how in his twenties he had rejected the Catholic Faith and had encouraged others to do the same. As a volunteer with a children’s group he had grudgingly accompanied them to Fatima. A friend asked him to say a Hail Mary there, and though he said it would be of no use as he did not believe, yet he said the prayer, and from that moment he felt the protection of Mary and the call of the Lord.
And now here he was, a priest serving at the London Shrine of Our Lady! He encouraged those gathered to pray the Rosary each day, as he does: part of his relationship with Mary, Mother of Mercy.