Whit Walk Ecumenical Procession

May 27, 2024

On Bank Holiday Monday, Manchester Universities’ Catholic Chaplaincy resurrected an ecumenical tradition going back centuries.

Each year the Christian Churches of Manchester and Salford gather for the ‘Whit Walk’, a procession of Christian unity that dates back to the beginning of the 19th Century. The Church of the Holy Name of Jesus, at which the Catholic Chaplaincy is based, participated in the processions until the last decades of the previous century. This year thirty members of the community walked again to share in this act of Christian witness.

One of the banners that the students carried was over fifty years old and a replica of an older banner which is on display in the Church was especially created. The procession was accompanied by the sound of several brass bands which brought crowds of onlookers to the side of the road. The roads were closed so that the procession could make its way to St Peter’s Square where a service was held in the presence of the Lord and Lady Mayor of Manchester.

In his sermon at the service, Matthew Porter, the Anglican Bishop of Bolton, spoke movingly about the conversion of Kim Phúc, a young Vietnamese girl, whose photograph became synonymous with the Vietnam war. She later converted to Christianity and was able to forgive those who had committed acts of violence during her upbringing. Bishop Porter told the gathered Churches that they must learn both to receive forgiveness from God and to pass it on with generosity to others.

As the staff and students of the Manchester Universities come to the end of another academic year the community has grown in confidence and faith. New avenues in ministry have opened up through closer collaboration with the University of Manchester and the Manchester Metropolitan University with Chaplains being recognised as visiting members of staff at both institutions. This year several anniversaries are being marked including the bicentenary of the two universities and the centenary of the dedication of the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus.

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