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Get involved in the Year of Pilgrimage

Llandaff clergy making a pilgrimage to Santiago 

Year of Pilgrimage: A 2020 Centenary Odyssey

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2020 is a landmark year for the Church in Wales as we join together to celebrate its centenary year. The Diocese of Llandaff is embracing this once-in-alifetime event with its own Year of Pilgrimage which will see the church reaffirm its position as the cornerstone of community life in South Wales.

Whether church has always played an important part in your life or you are at the beginning of your faith journey, our Year of Pilgrimage can help you further explore your spirituality. Take part in a local pilgrimage or join us for worship and celebration – it’s up to you. However you wish to encounter God, we’ll be with you every step of the way. Here’s what we’ve got planned and how you can get involved.

1. Explore your own faith journey

At the start of the year a set of pilgrim items – a Pilgrim staff, shell, whistle, satchel, and Pilgrim Bear – will begin their journey throughout the local community. As each parish receives the items they will be organising events in the local community where you can celebrate and explore your Christian faith.

2. Take part in a Year of Pilgrimage Celebration Day

Our Year of Pilgrimage begins with a special service at Llandaff Cathedral on Sunday 12 January at 3:30pm. The pilgrim items will receive a blessing as they start their journey around the parishes.

Can’t make it? Don’t worry. Each of our three archdeaconries is hosting a 2020 Year of Pilgrimage Celebration Day and you are very welcome to join us for an event filled with fun, fellowship and faith. Catch up with old friends or make new ones – we hope to see you there!

3. Make a personal pilgrimage to Llandaff Cathedral

Did you know Llandaff Cathedral is 900 years old next year? The cathedral is steeped in history and rich in holiness. Take part in a special 900th celebratory event or simply sit in peaceful contemplation. A visit to Llandaff Cathedral is an essential visit in 2020.

New to church? Not a problem – 2020 is the perfect way to start your faith journey. Contact your local church for a friendly welcome.

4. Take part in The Big Sing

The jewel in the crown of our centenary celebrations. On Sunday 28 June at 3pm, churches, communities and choirs will gather at an iconic location in their area to sing Guide Me, Oh Thou Great Redeemer. This will be a record-breaking celebration of Welsh culture and church heritage.

5. Volunteer at your local church

Churches are the biggest provider of voluntary services in Wales and demand for our help is ever increasing. From Dementia Cafes to helping out at a local foodbank, we urgently need more volunteers to help us help those in need. A few hours a week can make all the difference so why not make 2020 your year of giving?

6. Worship with us

People go to church for many reasons but chief among them is a sense of belonging. You’ll find a strong community of people who seek to love one another and make the world a more caring place. Experience the calm and stillness of God’s peace as you deepen your relationship with Christ. Visit your local church this Sunday.

In a recent conversation with my fellow bishops we started to toy with the idea of moving the season of Advent. Why not? We already know there are two possible start dates for Advent. The Church likes to launch the first season of the Christian year on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Whereas the manufacturers of Advent calendars prefer to offer the 1st December as the start of the countdown to Christmas. Happily – and unusually – this year they coincide on the same day.

Bishop June

Yet, the bishops wanted to be more radical. Given that the Christmas season has moved steadily forward into December, and most families behave as if Christmas is pretty much over by Boxing Day, we were discussing whether we are at risk of losing Advent altogether.

It’s hard to sustain even the themes of prophets, the Second Coming of Christ and John the Baptist as Christmas carols and parties abound by mid-December. The traditional Advent framework of the four last things: death, judgement, heaven and hell barely get a look in. It would be a very brave cleric or Reader who would now dare to preach about hell on Sunday 22nd December!

And so, the bishops, not

altogether seriously, speculated whether we could mark Advent before the Christmas festivities take over, perhaps moving it back into November? What none of us remembered to mention is that the Celtic church of Britain and Ireland once did just that, commencing Advent on the eve of 15th November. There was good reason for this date as it marked 40 days before Christmas including the Sundays.

Just as Lent is seen as a proper season of preparation for Easter, so Advent has long been treated as a time to draw close to God and anticipate his three comings into our life. Whilst we focus on the arrival of the Christ child in Bethlehem, we’re also encouraged to ponder the ways he comes into our daily lives, the grace he pours into our experiences – mundane or challenging – so we can truly say that God is with us. And over those 40 days we might discover the significance for ourselves that – as we say in our celebrations of the Eucharist - ‘Christ will come in glory’. A first coming, a daily coming and a coming again.

Bishop June at Santiago 

but also about hope, faith, joy and peace. We’re preparing in every parish for a year of engagement with our communities through our pilgrim plans.

I’m hoping to see as many as can make it to the launch of our Pilgrim Year at 3:30pm on Sunday 12th January in our Cathedral. Perhaps you could come and share with me how long your Advent lasted and when it began?

With all blessings for your Advent and Christmas,

Bishop June

Prayer for our Pilgrim Year

In the strength of God the maker we are going on a journey

In the friendship of Jesus we are going on a journey

In the safeguarding of the Holy Spirit we are going on a journey.

A star is shining

Whichever Advent time frame you choose to recognize, it remains a time of preparation. For those of us in the parish churches of Llandaff, that preparation isn’t only to see out 2019 but to shape our ‘Year of Pilgrimage’ which awaits us in 2020. Pilgrims journey purposefully together. On the paths they travel they manage brave conversations. Pilgrims should talk about the human experiences of death, judgement, heaven and hell;

Angels are busy

Mary is pregnant

Joseph is packing

Advent is coming

It’s time to go

May God bless us with hope and wonder as we travel. Amen




– An archive exhibition exploring the history of the Cathedral will run from February to the Autumn.

– A bumper series of musical events including the usual early-Summer season of concerts and introducing fortnightly organ recitals and a lunchtime series of varied recitals. A performance of William Matthias’ St Teilo on 28th March 2020 will be the musical highlight of the year. This will feature the Llandaff Choral Society and the Cathedral Choir and will be narrated by BBC’s Huw Edwards.

– Commissioning a new anthem which the Cathedral Choir will perform.

Llandaff Cathedral 

– The long-awaited Cathedral Guide Book, written by Dr John Kenyon and published by one of the leading publishers of that genre Scala, will be published at the launch of the 900th celebrations in February.

– A time capsule will be created as a snap-shot of life in the Cathedral at Easter 2020.

– Welcome news to many will be the introduction of new, comfortable chairs for the Nave.

– School and parish pilgrimage visits will continue alongside the inclusion of the Cathedral in the Penrhys Pilgrimage Route.

– A series of Celebration Services during the year as we draw together the cathedral’s anniversary, the Diocesan Year of Pilgrimage and the Centenary of the Church in Wales.

Please hold these plans and the life of the Cathedral in your prayers and of course consider ways in which you can support, contribute to and enhance these celebrations.