Cathedral Dean prepares for pilgrimage to Tanzania

Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, The Very Rev'd Dr Frances Ward, holding a walking stick with scallop shells to signify her pilgrimage
Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, The Very Rev'd Dr Frances Ward, holding a walking stick with scallop shells to signify her pilgrimage
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The Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral expects to have her faith challenged during a pilgrimage to Tanzania.

On Monday, The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward will be among 12 Suffolk clergy to set off on a two-week journey to Kagera, a region in the northwestern corner of Tanzania.

The group will be visiting churches and community projects in the area, and supporting and listening to the African people.

Their pilgrimage - a journey of moral or spiritual significance - is intended to strengthen a 20-year link between the Kagera Diocese and the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.

“I’ve never been to Africa so it will be a new experience all round, I’m really looking forward to it,” said Dr Ward who was born in Australia and is excited about returning to ‘the bush’ and seeing an ‘abundance of wildlife’.

The ‘interesting paradox’ of visiting a country with ‘poverty on a scale beyond what we can imagine’ so close to Christmas and the materialistic trappings of the season has not escaped her attention.

She said: “People think the more we have the happier we’re going to be, but that’s not right. Love, joy and peace are the three main things that Christmas is about and none of those have a materialistic price.”

Dr Ward hopes to learn lessons from meeting people who are joyful despite living hand-to-mouth, and says she expects to be challenged in her faith but wants to ‘be as open to that as possible’.

“Sometimes you lose sight of what it’s all about and I want to be put back in touch with that,” she said.