Share the Journey Camino

When Bishop Patrick wrote to the clergy in the Diocese, asking them to promote the Share the Journey campaign, I don’t think he imagined it would make two parishioners leave the country! However, when Sue Otter and friend Ellen read about it in their parish newsletter (Our Lady of Victories, Market Harborough) she emailed me to tell me that she wanted to include their miles as they walked the Portuguese Route of the Camino Santiago de Compostela.

Ellen & Sue

Ellen & Sue on their previous Camino route

My first reaction was envy! This historic pilgrimage is something I have wanted to do for many years and have yet to get organised.  Sue told me “Our previous Camino was completed over 3 Easter holidays but now we are both retired we have more flexibility and were keen to try another Camino route, this time we are walking from Porto to Santiago which should take 2 weeks. We heard about Share the Journey  this weekend and wanted to be part of it.  We are clearly not refugees, we have warm clothing and tough boots, and a bed for the night. Walking long distances is however an opportunity to reflect on the plight of those who may be carrying a child as well as a backpack, and who don’t have the luxury of a bed or the money for a meal, and perhaps worst of all who are not welcomed by the people they meet. The kindness of strangers was one of the most memorable features of our walk and is something we will reflect on this time.

Porto Camino Route

The Porto Route

We started in Porto on Wednesday 9 May in bright sunshine having got our Compostela record stamped in the Se cathedral as our starting point. Real walking began on Thursday morning. We decided to take the seaside route, there are three routes, one inland, one coastal and one seaside; this follows a boardwalk where possible. Our first interesting obstacle was the road bridge at Matosinhos which was raised as we arrived to allow cargo ships through so instead of walking we spent half an hour on a bench watching huge ships creep through the narrow space. Then miles of walking along the boardwalk by long sandy beaches. Huge breakers crashing all round and spray everywhere. We met a group of 30 Australians walking the same route and keep coming across them in various places. Walked in to Vila de Conde where there are several beautiful churches (sadly locked) an enormous convent dating from the 15th century and a Roman aqueduct. From there along the coast to Póvoa de Varzim we noticed several large groups of older men playing serious card games in what looked like glass bus shelters. Overnight in a tiny hotel next to a bullfighting stadium! Didn’t know there was bullfighting in Portugal.

Friday walking inland with glimpses of the sea along cobbled tracks – tough on our feet. Through eucalyptus woods wonderful aroma and met a cheerful group of scouts on a walking weekend. Several beautiful churches with statues of St James where we were welcomed by ladies arranging flowers. On to Esponde where a small church had an amazing painted wooden ceiling with 12 Old Testament prophets carved and painted.Day 1

Saturday was showery so lots of stops for coffee notably one cafe covered in pictures of Che Guevara. Still not met any UK pilgrims; several American and Canadian and a German girl who was lost and walked with us for a while until she met some compatriots. Into Viana de Castelo where the lengthy iron bridge was built by Eiffel of tower game! Beautiful cathedral church, more statues of St James and a choir for Mass.

st james shrine

Shrine to St James

Started in Caminha heading for A Guarda it seems the ferry across the river does not run on Monday but a fisherman with a small boat took us for 5Euro. Quite a short walk today so we decided to explore the Iron Age village for which this small town is famous. It is of course up a long hill so we clocked 18.5km for the day not quite a rest day then. The Iron Age village hidden in the mist at the top lots of circular stone buildings discovered in the early 1900s. A kilometre long path is lined by huge stone stations of the cross also shrouded in mist and a tiny chapel at the summit. The mist disappeared eventually revealing a wonderful panoramic view of the coast. The sign outside the church said Mass at 6.30 but it turned out to be the Rosary! Our Spanish is not too good.

typical camino route

A typical Camino path

Arrived at 6 pm after a long 33km day walking along the coast beautiful scenery and fields of wildflowers. The last 5km always seem to be uphill and today was no exception walking on a Roman road with chariot ruts! Interesting but hard on my feet and needed to concentrate to keep balance.

Baiona is very picturesque seaside town with wide harbour lots of yachts and restored old town with a beautiful chapel next to a huge walled convent. That’s the third convent I have seen today but this one was in better condition. Off to Vigo in the morning. So far we have both walked 187 kilometres – That’s 116.2 miles!”

Thanks to Sue & Ellen for the updates of their first week and I hope this inspires you to join in / organise a parish walk!  Find out all you need to know about the campaign and order your organsier’s guide here

Out of the mouth’s of babes

On Friday I travelled up to Lindsey Deanery to take part in the annual Humber Bridge Cross – a joint Christian Aid / CAFOD fundraiser, which this year also incorporated the Share the Journey Campaign.  Over 70 people set off from the South Bank and added 316 miles onto the totaliser!

Organise a walk for the Share the Journey Campaign


Staff, parents and students from St Joseph’s Cleethorpes

To make the most of my 200-mile round trip I visited St Norbert’s school in Crowle and St Mary’s in Brigg.  We don’t have any school volunteers up that way so they haven’t had a CAFOD visit for a while.  As well as thanking them for their fundraising efforts over the years it was also an opportunity to talk about the new campaign, launched by Pope Francis in November.  And as Bishop Patrick, a new Trustee for CAFOD, is asking all parishes and schools in the Diocese to get involved, this was a golden opportunity to inform and motivate and inspire the schools and parishes to take part.  How arrogant and wrong was I?????


Students from St Mary’s Brigg, with the Lampedusa Cross

Having asked the children for some of the reasons for people being on the move and being told disasters, for food, for jobs, because of war, I then asked them to close their eyes and to imagine if they had to leave their home and could only take one thing, what would it be?

After a few moments of eye’s tight shut and peeking through gaping fingers I invited them to tell me.  Food, water, Xbox, mobile phone, the dog, batteries, a family photo.  One young man in Year 4 said his St Christopher medal to keep him safe.  A little girl in year 1 said a drawing she had done of her grandad who had recently died.  What amazing responses.

We had moved on a little but one girl was still sat hoping to be asked, her hand supporting her raised arm.  “Go on,” I said, “tell me what you would take.”

“God”, she replied.

I was speechless!  After a few moments I asked her, “and how would you carry God with you on the journey?”

“He’s in my soul and so I won’t lose Him or leave Him behind.  He will always be with me.”

My job that weekend had been done for me – thanks to this young girl in Year 5.


Good Behaviour awards at the end of the assembly at St Norbert’s, Crowle

As I recounted this story when speaking at the three Masses at St Augustine’s in Barton upon Humber and St Mary’s in Brigg there were tears.  If this doesn’t motivate you to get involved, I challenged the congregations, I don’t know what will!

Let us be inspired by our young people to engage in this campaign; to walk in solidarity with those facing so many dangers and challenges; let us act to bring about change.  Let us Share their journey.

Did I mention we don’t have any school volunteers up in this area of the Diocese?


My good behaviour badge!

As a CAFOD Education Volunteer you will most certainly receive more than you give! Get in touch to find out more.

Volunteer with CAFOD



Celebrating with our neighbours

One of the many benefits of having the CAFOD Volunteer Centre at the McGuinness Centre in Roman Catholic Diocese of Nottingham is being able to pop next door to the Convent Chapel for weekday Mass. This morning we celebrated the Dedication and Consecration of the parish church of #OurLadyofPerpetualSuccour in Bulwell on this day in 1961.c255b4_Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Fr John wore vestments made by the Sisters of the #PoorClare community at that time. We received communion from the Chalice given to Fr Short (the PP) by his parents for his ordination in 1917. Finally Fr Anthony enthralled us with the history of the building of the church and also shared beautiful words from St Augustine about the dedication of a church – (Sermon 336,1,6: PL 38 [edit. 1861]. 1471-1472, 1475)

downloadAs the skill of construction joins together bricks, mortar and carpentry to create a place of worship and sanctuary, so are we who use it to be joined together. Whether it be the parish, the town, the diocese, our universal church.
“The work we see complete in this building is physical; it should find its spiritual counterpart in your hearts. We see here the finished product of stone and wood; so too your lives should reveal the handiwork of God’s grace.”

And so it calls to mind the work of CAFOD, founded and sustained and supported by the Catholic Community of England & Wales, living out its mission to bring about the Kingdom of God.

olops church

A very blessed start to the day.

And a reminder that we can increase the work we do by taking advantage of the few days left to double our donations!  The UK Government will double donations up to and including May 12 – £5million!  UK_aid_logo

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