Bishop of Ripon to lead his last Boxing Day pilgrimage

Darlington and Stockton Times: Bishop John Packer Bishop John Packer

A BOXING Day pilgrimage between two of the region’s great religious sites will this year be the last for its leader.

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Right Reverend John Packer, will be retiring at the end of this year after 14 years in the role.

Each Boxing Day he has led the four-mile pilgrimage from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey, following in the footsteps of the group of Cistercian monks who founded the abbey in 1132.

“For me, the Boxing Day Pilgrimage has always been one of the highlights of the year, though more so on a crisp winter morning than if it is pouring with rain,” he said.

“The walk gives us the chance to talk with one another and gives us a sense of pilgrimage and of moving forward and on into the New Year.

“This year in particular I will be looking forward, to a new chapter in my own life and to a new chapter in the life of the diocese.”

Hundreds are expected to join the Bishop for the pilgrimage, which sets out from the cathedral’s West front at about 10.10am, following a service of Holy Communion at 9.30am.

It winds through parkland and countryside following the banks of the River Skell out of the city, through the Studley Royal deer park and on to the World Heritage site of Fountains Abbey.

The walkers are able to enter the site for free, and the 90-minute walk concludes with a short service of carols and prayers in the Fountains Abbey ruins.

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