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CMA Consecration to Our Lady

7th of October, the feast day of Our Lady of Victories. The anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, and thus a very apt day for the consecration of the Catholic Military Association. As this was my first event with the CMA, I was initially apprehensive about it, due to being a relatively young private soldier I was not quite sure what it would be like. I need not have feared however, as it turned out to be one of my fondest memories thus far in my young career in the military. Arriving at Walsingham with an RAF Regiment corporal whom I had met the day before, also staying in RAF Honington for the weekend, we soon met the rest of the members of the association who had made the pilgrimage (literally and figuratively) to rural Norfolk for the day.

While most people walked the Holy Mile to the Slipper Chapel barefoot, unfortunately I had to refrain due to an approaching RFT that I did not want to be injured for. The conversation was great, and the scenery was spectacular. It is no wonder that Our Lady chose to appear in such a beautiful and gentle setting all those hundreds of years ago. Upon reaching the Slipper Chapel, we all gathered inside and prayed a Holy Rosary. Not only was praying the Rosary with such a like-minded group of people so inspiring, but a sailor present in our group sang the ‘Ave Maria’ in Latin. The acoustics were amazing, and I am sure there was not a dry eye present at the end.

The Bishop of the Forces consecrated our association afterwards to Our Lady. This was an honour to be present for, as it was and is a key moment in the development of our association and our own experiences with our faith. The little group that we had felt so natural to be around, and being a Catholic in the Armed Forces, it was nice to finally feel part of a community. The percentage of Catholics in the Forces, as far as I can recall, is a good bit higher than the general civilian population, but often we are quiet about our faith. The CMA, now consecrated to the Queen of Heaven, is a spiritual haven for us, just as the Slipper Chapel was a physical haven for us that day.

The Bishop, along with a number of other priests including our very own Ukrainian Greek Catholic padre Father Vlod, said Mass for all pilgrims present at the shrine. Captain Osborn spoke on behalf of the association, and numerous members of the congregation approached us afterwards to thank us for what we were doing. It felt pretty cool to be looked up to by fellow Catholics for growing our faith in a community where usually our faith is relatively silent.

The day ended with a lunch in a local restaurant, where we got to socialise a bit, spin some dits and get to know each other more, along with having some properly good scoff. Going our separate ways at the end of the day, I had made some new connections, new friends and new brothers and sisters in Christ that I will treasure for a long time to come.

Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis.

- Private “Irish”, Royal Army Medical Corps

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