This week it was announced that our church is to be honoured with the status of a Diocesan Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. The Cardinal will officially inaugurate the shrine at a Mass on 22 October 2016. As you know, this year we are celebrating the 800th Anniversary of the foundation of the Dominican Order. In this special year of grace, this news is a great blessing for all of us. The Inauguration Mass will be the jewel in the crown of our Jubilee celebrations at Dominic’s.
The Rosary has always had a special place in the Dominican tradition. Legend has it that Our Lady entrusted St Dominic with this great prayer and commissioned the Dominican Order he founded to spread this devotion throughout the world. The central altar in the Lady Chapel depicts this moment when Our Lady presented St Dominic with the Rosary. Next year St Dominic’s will be celebrating 150 years since the foundation of the priory and parish. From the beginning, there had always been the hope that the church might become a place of pilgrimage to Our Lady. The Rosary is built into the very fabric of the church with each of the fourteen side chapels dedicated to particular mysteries of the Rosary culminating in the fifth Glorious Mystery – the Coronation of Our Lady – depicted in the stained glass above the High Altar.
Our new status as a Shrine means that we have been given a special mission as a parish to share the riches of the Rosary and our church with pilgrims from all over London and beyond. Building upon the success of our Jubilee events, we are planning a programme of Shrine events to promote knowledge of and devotion to the mysteries of the life of Christ presented to us in the Rosary. These will include retreat days, youth events, conferences, and regular Shrine devotions.
We are blessed with a beautiful church and a vibrant community here at St Dominic’s but, of course, there is plenty of work to be done as we prepare to welcome so many new visitors on pilgrimage to our church. A pilgrimage is a time to grow in faith and we should do our best to facilitate this in every way. This means making their experience of St Dominic’s and its worship as good as possible.
An important aspect of this will be to make the church look its best as we approach the inauguration of the Shrine. We will need to think ambitiously about works to be done to the fabric of the church. We hope soon to begin a programme of restoration to the church, building on the recent renovations to the altars in the Lady Chapel. We hope to enhance the Lady Chapel still further as befits the altar of Our Lady of the Rosary by cleaning and painting the ceiling. The screens to the side chapels need repainting and regilding as a first step towards gradually restoring the side chapels themselves. As well as enhancing the appearance the church, we hope to improve visitors’ and parishioners’ experience by upgrading the sound and heating systems.
All of this will involve a considerable outlay, so please pray for us as we seek benefactors to support our new Shrine. There will, of course, have to be a series of fund raising events in the parish. As your parish priest, I have, perhaps foolishly, decided to take part in a 10 kilometre sponsored run: details will follow with the warmer weather! Other ideas for fund raising events would be very welcome. In the meantime, if you would like to make a donation to support the launch of the Shrine and its ongoing work please take an envelope from the back of church or contact me about it. We are expecting a large number of people to come to the Inaugural Mass which will take place a 12 noon on Saturday 22nd October, so please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in attending.