2000 - 2014
In 2004 a fire broke out in the Shrine Chapel destroying the murals which once hung there and damaging much of the other artwork. Happily, the windows and ceramics could be repaired, but the murals had to be replaced.
The decision was made by the Prior Provincial to install icons depicting saints inspired by the Carmelite Rule of Saint Albert, in commemoration of the 8th centenary of the Carmelite Rule in 2007. The icons were written by Sister Petra Clare, a Benedictine hermit living in Scotland.
Sister Petra Clare with one of the icons she had written.
In 2007, Friar Beyond the Pale was published, which was a new biography (and still available) on the founder of the Shrine, Fr. Elias Lynch. Through his letters to fellow friars and through his Carmelite newsletter, Fr. Elias Lynch communicated his heart and soul to readers in the English county of Kent, his native Ireland, and throughout the world. The life and insights of Elias Lynch are presented in his own words and through this biography by Fr. Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm.
2014 - 2021
In 2014, the Guild of Saint Jude was founded. It was set up to foster worship, for members to be able to support and share in the mission of the Carmelite Family by prayer and material resources; and to raise awareness and encourage pilgrimages to the National Shrine. From 2014 - 2015 work started on converting the old 'newsletter office' into the Shrine Information Centre. Up until now, it had been a place for folding and posting out the newsletter (since moved to external printers) with a machine that took up most of the room (see above).
In 2015, the Shrine joined the Churches Visitor & Tourism Association, and in 2021 our development manager became a trustee.
On 26 March 2015 in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee, the Prior General, Fr. Fernando Millán Romeral blessed a new plaque in the Shrine.
The Shrine Information Centre was officially opened later that year by the Most. Rev. Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark on 28 October 2015 during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
In January 2016, the Development Manager went to Rome for the Year of Mercy, as outlined in the spring edition of 'Carmelite News':
The strange happening of Saint Jude, Pope Francis and the Year of Mercy
As I write that heading it sounds like the plot from an Agatha Christie story or a Father Brown adventure! As you will be aware, I am sure, this year has been proclaimed by our good Pope Francis to be a ‘Holy Year of Mercy’ when we focus as a whole Church family on the mercy of God – something which Saint Jude specialises in. In the course of this year the Vatican is organising a series of gatherings for those involved in different areas of ministry, to help them reflect on how they can incorporate this message of Mercy into their work. Because our Shrine is a place of pilgrimage, we asked Matt our Development Manager to take part along with two others. They were able to stay with our brothers in Rome.
Matt took with him one of the new statues of our friend Saint Jude which have just recently arrived from Italy. These are copies of the beautiful statue of Saint Jude by Adam Kossowski, an artist closely associated with the Carmelite Order. It depicts the Saint holding a copy of his letter, which is one of the New Testament letters in the Bible.
Now some may say that it was just good luck, or others might sense a touch of heavenly intervention, but Matt found himself with his companions in an area of the audience hall where he would have the chance, perhaps, to shake hands with the Pope. When the time came though, Matt was close enough to reach forward and hand Pope Francis the small statue of Saint Jude. The Pope gave a broad smile and asked, before taking it, ‘Is that for me?’ Being reassured that it was, the Holy Father took Saint Jude’s statue in his hands before passing it to the archbishop accompanying him.
I am sure you know that there are rare moments in life when things just seem to come together. We feel that this is one."
At the start of 2017, St Albert's Press was amalgamated into the Shrine Office.
The Shrine of Saint Jude was renovated and painted for the first time in fourteen years at the end of 2017, thanks to a donation from Mrs Florinda Bhadwa. A new webcam was added at the same time, so that pilgrims from around the world could pray at the Shrine.
On 29 October 2017, Archbishop Peter Smith returned and celebrated Mass for the Feast of Saint Jude. Afterwards and with the Prior Provincial, Fr Kevin Alban, they officially opened the small meeting room as the renamed Brother Anthony McGreal room. Brother Anthony McGreal, O.Carm assisted the founder, Father Elias Lynch, O.Carm in establishing the Shrine of Saint Jude and the work of the Carmelite Press. His work with Father Elias created the groundwork for this special place. Brother Anthony’s nephew, Father Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm was in attendance for this special Mass and renaming of the room. Fr. Wilfrid said a few words about his uncle, which he summed up when he said that he looked up to his uncle as some who was a great and hard-working man.
At the end of 2018, Carmelite friars and pilgrims made a pilgrimage across the county of Kent to Canterbury Cathedral on 17th November 2018. The pilgrimage linked one of Kent's newer holy sites (the National Shrine of Saint Jude was established by the Carmelites in Faversham in 1955) with one of its most historic. The pilgrims gathered at the National Shrine of Saint Jude for a morning of reflection and prayer led by Fr. Ged Walsh, O.Carm.After lunch they travelled by coach along the historic pilgrimage route from Faversham - via Harbledown - to the Westgate of Canterbury. The pilgrims, led by the Carmelite Prior Provincial Fr. Kevin Alban, were welcomed at Canterbury Cathedral by the resident Anglican clergy. The pilgrims celebrated Mass in the beautiful crypt, the original location of the Shrine of Saint Thomas Becket before it was moved to the main body of the cathedral.
In 2019, the Shrine and Carmelite Charitable Trust proudly became a member of Your Catholic Legacy. At the Shrine Information Centre, we were finally able to sort out the entrances which had always been an issue: these were swapped and the old entrance became the fire exit. The dangerous glass in between the postroom and Information Centre was covered up so it was safe.
During the pandemic of 2020/21, the Shrine of Saint Jude offered a number of online initiatives and developments, including 'Praying with Saint Jude at home' and the Virtual Feast of Saint Jude. These were initially daily, but became weekly, reflections written by Carmelite friars, lay people and other people associated with the Shrine, including the Jesuit scholar Fr Nicholas King. These reflections were eventually turned into two successful books: 'God in the Time of COVID-19' and 'A New Hope'.
In 2020, the Shrine was given five stars by the new guide 'Britain's Pilgrim Places' produced by the British Pilgrimage Trust. The authors particularly emphasised that.."the Shrine is a common meeting ground between Anglicans and Catholics since there was little historical and cultural interest in Jude during Christianity's most difficult years. He is certainly a more productive figure to contemplate than the Reformation martyrs of either side. For that reason alone this Shrine deserves the highest recommendation".
On 19 July 2021, the Shrine was reopened for the first time since March 2020 after being closed because of the Pandemic.
During August 2021, the Shrine sign was returned to the grounds after a four year absence.
Finally, on 16 September 2021, the Mayor of Faversham, Mrs Alison Reynolds officially opened the new Garden of Hope (at the back of the offices).
It was blessed by Fr Brendan Grady, O.Carm, who at that point was completing his time as Chaplain of the Shrine before taking on the role of Prior Provincial.