New Dawn in Liskeard, Cornwall

 Last Sunday the annual pilgrimage to Ladye Park at Liskeard was transformed. Despite the wind and rain, the hills around resounded to the joyful strains of about 100 pilgrims who gathered for a New Dawn Day. New Dawn is a conference which has taken place at Walsingham every August since 1987. The New Dawn web site declares: "The vision behind it is to bring all the riches of the Catholic Faith together - for the beauty of the church to be seen in all its splendour, the church with all its lights on and all its aspects celebrated - the charismatic, the liturgical, the Marian, the Eucharistic, the Sacramental, the mystical - and for the whole family to be there." New Dawn conferences are taking place all over the world. New Dawn Days are a relatively new development and they usually take place at sites with historical Catholic connections. The decision to have one this year at Ladye Park in Liskeard site of the ancient shrine of Our Lady of the Park, was partly inspired by the owners John and Judith Wilks who are C of E evangelical Christians. They have always welcomed the pilgrimages unreservedly but this year expressed a wish that there could be an injection of praise and worship. Myles Dempsey of the Prince of Peace community in Liverpool and the inspiration behind New Dawn, immediately stepped in and agreed to organise a New Dawn Day and so it happened that Sunday 12 September was the first New Dawn Day in Cornwall. It began with a pilgrim Mass in the Catholic Church of Our Lady and St Neot in Liskeard. The rousing charismatic atmosphere was a slight shock for those who had not previously experienced a Catholic charismatic event but as the Mass progressed the miracle which takes place at every Catholic Mass the world over was performed with reverence and awe. Christ's real presence could clearly be felt. The chief celebrant was Fr Michael Gwinnel retired priest from the Southwark Diocese, co celebrated by Fr George Howe of the Franciscan friars of the Immaculate from Lanherne. In his homily Fr Michael spoke of how legend has it that Liskeard was once the seat of a pagan Goddess Kerrid and the town's very name is thought by many to be derived from LYS KERRID meaning Court of Kerrid in Cornish, but she was deposed and expelled by Our Lady when Christianity came to the area and Mary became venerated as Queen of Heaven and Mother of God. Then in the Middle Ages, Mary herself was banished and new pagan Gods began to take her place but now Mary is returning to overcome the pagan gods of today of money, sex, materialism and self. After a short break for lunch, the group walked the pilgrim mile from the church to Ladye Park. It took them first along West Street and to Old Road, Liskeard. From there the pilgrims turned off the road and down a steep narrow footpath bordered on either side by high hedges. This is still locally known as The Mass Path. It is doubtless over 1000 years old and would have been used by pilgrims in days of yore as they descended to attend a celebration of the Eucharist at Ladye Park. Some said the rosary as they wended their hallowed way. At last a small lane was reached and across this the house and grounds could be seen but the pilgrims made their way up the lane to meet up with those pilgrims who had not seen fit to chance their unsteady feet along the Mass Path. From here at about 3pm a short procession of about a hundred pilgrims of all ages, began along the tranquil lane, banners aloft singing the two Ladye Park processional hymns, one with a chorus in Cornish. On arrival at Ladye Park the band of pilgrims were greeted warmly by John and Judith and then the music ministry, led the 100 or so strong group in such jubilant prayer and praise that the inclement weather was forgotten. At one point they burst into the beautiful song "It's beginning to rain. Hear the voice of my Father" A worshipper jokingly declared that it was not a good choice as whenever it was sung it rained! On this occasion they did not want any more. However just as the waters of baptism hail the coming of the Holy Spirit so did the rain on this occasion. After a wonderful scripture based talk by Myles Dempsey in which he reminded everyone that Our Lady lived in the shadow of the Holy Spirit. Participants were invited to come forward for prayers that the Holy Spirit, already present through baptism, should empower them anew. The day ended as so many previous pilgrimages have done, with the owners inviting pilgrims into their historic home, for tea and cakes, before gently winding their way back to homes in various parts of Cornwall and for some very much further afield. The thought in everyone's mind was "Is today a seed for the future in which Liskeard will play a significant part in the spiritual renewal of England and its return to being the "dowry of Mary" Further details of the ancient shrine of Our Lady of the Park can be found on

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