NEWS 310716 Walsingham - New Priest Administrator at Walsingham
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The Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham
For Immediate Use
Sunday, 31 July 2016
New Priest Administrator at Walsingham
Father Kevin Smith, Vicar of Horden in the Diocese of Durham, is to be the new Priest Administrator of the Anglican Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham.
Fr Smith has been appointed by the Guardians to oversee the next phase of the Shrine’s witness and development. In order to undertake the day to day ministry at the Shrine he will be licensed by the Bishop of Norwich, Graham James ,cementing a strong relationship with the local diocese.
The Shrine is currently overseen by interim Priest Administrator Father Philip Barnes who today welcomed news of Father Smith's appointment: "I am sure that Father Kevin will be made extremely welcome by staff and pilgrims and, because he knows the Shrine so well, he will soon be at home."
The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, Master of the Guardians, said he was "absolutely delighted " that Fr Kevin had agreed to be appointed Priest Administrator:
“Walsingham is a hugely important place of conversion, devotion and healing, for people across Britain and beyond. Distinctively within the Church of England, Walsingham points us to the indispensable contribution that Mary makes to the gospel of her Son Jesus Christ. It also reminds us how much we have in common with other Christians, especially our Roman Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters. In Fr Kevin we have a wise and experienced priest who will draw on his parochial ministry in the north and his knowledge of the Shrine as a Guardian. We are deeply indebted to Fr Philip Barnes for his sensitive care and generosity of spirit in the months that he has been the interim Priest Administrator.”
After studying at Westminster College, Oxford Father Smith trained for the priesthood at Chichester Theological College and was ordained priest in 1993. He served in parishes in Worksop and in South Yorkshire before moving to the north east in 2003.
"I will miss my parish and parishioners very much indeed, but there is a strong tradition of pilgrimage to Walsingham from Horden, so it will not be goodbye for ever. I feel enormously privileged to have been asked to accept the post of Priest Administrator" said Father Kevin today.
He added: "I am both daunted and excited. It is a huge responsibility. But it is certainly a challenge I feel ready to take on."
A keen walker and cook, who also likes travelling and entertaining, Father Kevin will say goodbye to his parishioners in the early autumn before moving to Norfolk.
Further information and interviews with Father Kevin please call Venetia on 01328 824204
Notes to editors:
The Shrine at Walsingham has been an important place of Christian pilgrimage since the eleventh century. After its destruction in the Sixteenth Century, the shrine was re-established in the 1920’s and its popularity has grown exponentially since then.
Walsingham receives hundreds of thousands of visitors and pilgrims every year and was recently described by the Archbishop of Canterbury as “one of the most important religious centres in Northern Europe”.
Relationships with the local community, parish & diocese [or Norwich] as well as Roman Catholic colleagues are hugely important aspects of the Administrator’s work.