By now, most everyone at the parish has heard about the youth pilgrimage to Spain that we recently undertook. Seven of our teenagers and confirmands spent six full days hiking El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) in Galicia, a province in northwest Spain. Parishioners Ann Collier and Tyler Ray, hiking guides Jennifer Pharr and Brew Davis, and I, accompanied these youth on this pilgrimage. El Camino de Santiago is the third most important pilgrimage site for Christians throughout the world next to Jerusalem and Rome, and upwards of 200,000 pilgrims make some portion of the trek every year. The destination is the Cathedral of Santiago, where the remains of the Apostle St. James are believe to be interred. But the destination is only part of the journey. The walk itself is a physical exercise in prayer, shared faith, and spiritual discovery that is rooted in the life of faith. Over six days, our parish youth and leaders hiked about 80 miles of the pilgrimage beginning in the town of Sarria, and arriving in the city of Santiago de Compostela.
In the coming weeks, we will hear personally at church from some of our youth who made this pilgrimage. But for the time being, I wanted to share a few of the photos of the journey itself. Each of us knew and felt that we were buoyed by the prayers of Church of the Ascension, even as we held everyone in the parish in prayer on a daily basis along The Way. The experience was nothing short of life changing for these youth, and all of us offer our thanks for all who made this journey of faith possible. As is often heard on the trail as a blessing to all whom you meet: Buen Camino.
Yours ever in Christ,
Poolside Evening Prayer after an evening swim on our first night in Sarria.
Signs of the holy at every turn along the Camino
The pilgrims on the first morning of our shared journey
The humble "cafe con leche" the mainstay of every weary pilgrim
The medieval church grounds where we celebrated Mass on Sunday
The yellow shell of St. James marks the way, and the kilometers
Setting out in the morning for a long day of hiking
The main plaza of Portomarin, a stop along the way on a very hot day
Friends and fellow pilgrims