|Br. Ged in Lourdes. |
My name is Brother Gerard Walsh; I am a Carmelite friar in first vows, living in our community in York, England. I am currently working in chaplaincy, dividing my time between the University of York and the York Hospital. Earlier this year I applied and was accepted for Solemn Profession of vows, which will take place at The Friars, Aylesford in October. Here I will publically profess the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to God, within the Order of Carmelites, for life. Over the next weeks I will blog how my preparation is progressing both practically and spiritually. This is the second blog entry, please enjoy.
Since my last blog entry, I have been busy, practically, preparing for my Solemn Profession, especially with regard to invites and organising accommodation arrangements for those travelling to Aylesford from far off, especially from my native Wirral! I am still waiting on a few RSVP’s and those arrangements can be finalised. Also on a practical level I am now turning my attention to the order of service and prayer card design, I will also need to finalise the music for the ceremony.
Turning to the spiritual dimension of my preparation, I have just returned from a week’s pilgrimage to Lourdes with the Carmelite Province, under the umbrella of the Catholic Association. This really was a grace filled week, although the busy schedule of caring for the Assisted Pilgrims who came to Lourdes with our group, didn’t leave a lot of time for reflection, the time available tended be used very wisely. One thing this Marian shrine does lend itself to is prayer and reflection, whether spending time at Our Lady’s grotto, (the site were Mary appeared to St. Bernadette) or in one of the many chapels. Even amongst the hustle and bustle of the crowds of pilgrims, there is always a quiet space to be found. I would recommend Lourdes to all our readers, if they ever have the opportunity to visit this wonderful place and especially as a helper, to do so. Personally, I began going to Lourdes when I was 16 years old and I have been back many times in the last 20 years.
Turning back to the extended period of retreat before professing my final vows, I will soon begin a time of retreat based at the Carmelite Monastery of nuns at Thicket Priory, located outside the city of York. The format of this retreat will be different from the time I spent at Mount St. Bernard’s. This time I will be very much left to my own devices as to the direction of the retreat. As with the previous retreat, I will build my day around the Prayer of the Church and the horarium/timetable that the nuns follow. The rest of the day will be spent in silent prayer, reflection and spiritual reading. Thicket Priory is set in the most beautiful grounds, so there will be the opportunity for walking and just generally being outside, the English weather permitting.
In my next blog entry I will let you know how I have gotten on. I would as you, our dear readers, to hold me in your prayer during these last weeks of preparation, and please be assured of my prayers too. Best wishes to all those beginning/returning to colleges and universities at this time and to also those who have finished education and are looking for work.
God bless, Br. Ged, O.Carm.