Praying with my feet: called to El Camino

For over a thousand years, millions of pilgrims have walked across Spain to the Catedral de Santiago (Cathedral of St. James). During Holy Week, I will become one of those pilgrims.

This Lent, much of my energy and prayer has been focused on preparing for this pilgrimage. During this, I have found that God has taught me a lot about what it means to be called.

I’ll be walking the Camino Inglés with five other women, four of whom are Franciscan sisters in my congregation. The Camino Inglés is one route — the quieter, less-traveled one — of the pilgrimage that ends at the Catedral de Santiago in western Spain.

Our little group will arrive in Spain on Palm Sunday and begin walking on Tuesday. We hope to arrive at the Catedral de Santiago in time for the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. Each day, we will walk between 12 and 18 miles. Each night, we will sleep in very simple refugios. We will carry everything on our back and pray with our feet as we walk steadily over the trail that pilgrims have journeyed since the Middle Ages.

Nearly every day since Lent began, I have laced up my hiking boots and headed outside to walk several miles. I have been trying, physically and spiritually, to prepare myself for this journey. A few weeks ago, I even…

[This is the beginning of my latest column for the online newspaper, Global Sisters Report. Continue reading here.]

“pack and poles” Photo by Julia Walsh, FSPA

prepping for pilgrimage

A week from now I will be in Madrid, Spain at the World Youth Day gathering with Catholics from all over the world. It will be a week of youth rallies, prayer, meetings, catechesis, bonding, communion and community building.  The great finale of the week will be an overnight vigil followed by a sunrise mass with Pope Benedict attended by millions of people.

I am very honored and blessed to have this opportunity to represent my community in a faraway land.  I am overwhelmed with what is ahead of me.  This is the most dramatic pilgrimage I have ever taken. Besides taking a few pilgrimages here and there to grottoes, shrines, and churches in the USA, I have never before traveled so far to deepen my faith and my relationship with God and the Church.

I am not really sure how to get ready. I am reading about Madrid and Spain and reviewing my basic Spanish skills.  I am making a packing list and running errands. I have gathered up some cool and comfortable clothing, a digital camera, and fresh journal.  I am trusting that God is guiding me through all this.

And, I am praying.  I am praying for an open heart and mind so I may grow.  I am praying that I warmly love all that I encounter so that my efforts at vocation outreach shall be fruitful.  I pray that the experience shall enlighten the hearts of young people from around the world so that they may grow in love with God and God’s people and be willing to devote themselves to building the reign of God.

I ask for your prayers for all the pilgrims, for the Catholic Church, for Christians everywhere and for young people who are searching no matter what they believe. Thank you!

p.s. I’ll do my best to send an update from Spain!