Pilgrimage Club Gears Up for Another Quest


IPC on the Camino de Santiago. Courtesy of Margaret Fleming

Margaret Fleming and Abby Weis

During June and July, the Ignatian Pilgrimage Club hiked over 160 miles of the Camino de Santiago, a spiritual journey through the small towns and mountains of northern Spain. This trip was the club’s second, following visits to missions along the coast of California and Yosemite National Park in the summer of 2017.

20 students and 5 adults from St. Ignatius spent two weeks in Spain. One teacher, Mr. Weiler, hiked the entirety of the pilgrimage, which is over 500 miles. The rest of the group began in Astorga and finished in the historic city of Santiago de Compostela.

Each day on the trail began at a pilgrim-only hostel, known as a refugio or albergue. The team broke up into new small groups each day, allowing for meaningful friendships to form. After hiking anywhere from three miles to more than a marathon in rain, shine, or hail, the pilgrims settled back into their new home for the night. Rising at or before dawn, the cycle began anew.

IPC arrived in Santiago and participated in pilgrim rituals such as attending Mass at the Cathedral, hugging the statue of St. James, and watching the swinging incense burner fly to the ceiling. Pilgrims spent a few days exploring the city and traveling to a beach at Finisterre, known as the “End of the World.”

Above the doors of the historic Cathedral in Santiago, the Greek letters for alpha and omega, beginning and end, have been flipped. Mr. Lord, who chaperoned the trip, often reminds his fellow pilgrims that the end of the Camino is the start of a new journey in life.

The omega and alpha above the doors to the Cathedral, symbolizing that the true pilgrimage is just beginning. Photo courtesy of Mr. Lord.

He says, “It is a fitting way to end the Camino de Santiago since the pilgrim is spiritually fed by Christ along the journey. The question becomes, ‘having been changed by the Camino de Santiago, how shall I begin my next spiritually journey?’ The end of this pilgrimage is but a beginning of the next.”

Photo caption: The omega and alpha above the doors to the Cathedral, symbolizing that the true pilgrimage is just beginning. Photo courtesy of Mr. Lord.

The IPC will quite literally begin the next pilgrimage this spring break in the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree National Park. The group will leave on March 16 and return March 24, the last day of break, for an action packed 9 days of hiking. This trip will focus on desert spirituality, a new kind of trip for the IPC.

On the website (located at the bottom), students can find the itinerary and the application for the trip. On the pilgrimage, students not only hike and see new places, but they also take some time out to reconnect with God. This trip will be a great experience because students will have the chance to take in new sights, and be able to have a meditative experience with God at the same time. Hiking with other students and sharing pilgrimage experiences together is a very cool thing that not everybody is able to have. It will offer a unique, once in a lifetime experience that students will remember forever.

Hiking experience is not a necessity for the spring break pilgrimage. In fact, most pilgrims have never hiked until they joined the club. Key items that were needed on the previous pilgrimages are hiking boots, a backpack (or a daypack), and hiking wear. As the trip nears closer, there will be a very detailed pack-list sent out, along with all other necessary information regarding the trip. The club will meet multiple times during activity period before the pilgrimage, so pilgrims can get to know the group and what to expect.

On the spring break trip, pilgrims will fly into Phoenix, and then take a drive to the Grand Canyon. On the second day, pilgrims will hike over 9.2 miles to the Canyon’s floor, and set up camp in the campground. The group will stay there for another day to hike more and see all the Canyon has to offer. By Day 6, pilgrims make it to Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua Tree offers many day hikes that pilgrims will have the options to do, and spectacular stargazing at night. The group will be transported by rental cars from the Grand Canyon to Joshua Tree. Multiple stops will be made along the way that include Sedona, Hoover Dam, and Red Rock Canyon.


The website with the application is: http://ignatianpilgrimageclub.blogspot.com/p/spring-break-pilgrimage.html

If interested students have any questions about it, they can contact Dr. Gholson, the club moderator.

Video Courtesy of Bella Brodlo