My name is Tom and I am a Curate serving the parish of St Gregory in Sudbury, Suffolk. Thank you for choosing to be a part of this pilgrim journey, and raising money for mental health support work on the way! The pilgrimage will take place on 22nd August 2020.
Why support mental health? Why the Kernos Centre?
The COVID19 pandemic has heightened anxiety in our nation like nothing I have seen in my life time. Isolation has intensified loneliness, lockdown has caused both mental and financial depression. Our lives have been changed entirely, almost overnight.
We have all had our dark days and weeks, how could we not? Though many of us choose not to talk about it, pretending we're all ok and have it all under control, the reality is inescapable. Things have got hard. I know from my own experience, and from speaking to parishioners on the phone during lockdown that things have been really up and down. Some weeks have been good, enjoying the sun and the lack of evening meetings. But some weeks have been tough, feeling as if there's no end in sight, missing out on big occasions - the black dog has been well and truly present.
But that doesn't mean there hasn't been hope. As a member of the clergy working throughout lockdown, I've been lucky enough to see some amazing and beautiful things. Local schools mobilising incredibly to support vulnerable children, broken families drawing closer together at the graveside supporting one another in their grieve, local community groups volunteering heroically to feed those unable to shop, or unable to afford to feed themselves.
Seeing these acts of love and service has brought so many people hope during the last few months. We need now to continue working for the common good, supporting those who offer hope in our world, and being places of hope ourselves.
An organisation that brings such hope to people in Sudbury is the Kernos Centre. Providing professional counselling and support for people with emotional and psychological difficulties, it ensures those who need it receive appropriate, effective and ongoing help, regardless of their resources. Recognising the increasing need for mental health support at this time, all money I raise will be donated to the Kernos centre, to support local people in their time of need.
Why pilgrimage? Why to Bury St Edmunds?
I love journeys. They're something I missed massively during lockdown, not least because a week before I broke my foot, meaning even a daily walk was impossible. But I love journeys not so much for the destination (although a country pub, an afternoon at the football, or a visit to the family are not to be scoffed at!), but because of what you learn on the way – what it allows you to notice, to see from a different perspective. Not all journeys are fun, or romantic, or life-giving, of course. Some can be tough, boring, frustrating. But you never come back the same. You never arrive with the same understanding of the world around you.
One of the reasons for this, I suspect, is that God is in all things, and that every thing is in some way of God. This makes every journey, every stepping out from our homes, an adventure of God, an opportunity to learn more of him, and to in turn learn more of ourselves. It is with this sense of excitement and anticipation that I make this pilgrimage.
I have decided to journey, on pilgrimage, on foot, from St Gregory’s Church in Sudbury to the Cathedral and abbey ruins where St Edmund’s shrine once laid in Bury St Edmunds. I want to do this both as a way of walking closer in step with God, spending time in prayer, and walking in the footsteps of thousands of pilgrims throughout the centuries, but also as a way of gathering and bringing the prayers of our town of Sudbury to God as I do so (to add your prayers go to www.stgregorychurchsudbury.co.uk and fill in the prayer request box).
If people are willing to give, I would also like to raise money for the local mental health support charity, the Kernos Centre, at the same time.
I plan to largely follow the pilgrim path of the St Edmund way, which will mean a good 18-20 or so miles for the day. I will begin in prayer at our parish church, St Gregory's in Sudbury, and end in prayer in the abbey ruins and Cathedral, which have seen so much prayer and pilgrimage over the centuries.
Please join me in this pilgrim journey by adding your prayers. I will offer them on the way and at my destination. Please also join me by donating money to support the work of the Kernos Centre, supporting those who need mental health support at this time and in the coming months.
- Through CAF donation
- Brenda Mumford
- Debbie Stearne
- Chris Owen
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