To mark the Ignatian Year (2021-2022), Newman College (The University of Melbourne) and Magis Network Australia organised a ‘Camino’, a pilgrimage for young adults.
The pilgrimage route – through the Barossa and Clare Valleys – followed the steps of the first Jesuits who arrived in Australia in 1848, who travelled on foot from Gawler through to Tanunda, Nuriootpa, Kapunda, Riverton, Auburn and finally to Sevenhill, where the Jesuits currently run a parish, a retreat centre and a winery.
In the first pilgrimage of its kind, 17 young adults accompanied by Matthew Pinson SJ (a Jesuit student) and Fr Sacha Bermudez-Goldman SJ walked 125km over six days (an average of 21km/day) from Gawler to Sevenhill.
The group stayed in caravan parks, sleeping in small cabins, tents and churches along the way. They bought groceries at the end of each day each day and cooked and shared meals together.
Following the Ignatian Year theme, ‘To see all things new in Christ’, the pilgrims walked together as a faith community, enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, reflecting on daily themes and engaging in rich liturgies and sharing at the end of each day.
“As well as physically challenging us and giving us a quiet space to pray and reflect, the Camino can attune us to this better way,” participant Gabby reflected.
“We are hopeful that a better way does exist – one that persists amidst the chaos of the pandemic. On the Camino, glimpses of this way became apparent in things like the kindness of strangers and the beauty of the landscape. These glimpses are what I treasure most from my own pilgrimage experience, because through them, I am drawn closer to God,” she said.
“Although the Camino itself comes and goes with bewildering speed, the better way that it points to can be ‘taken home’ with us. We can return to our lives with eyes that see just a little bit more clearly, filled with just a little bit more hope for the future.”
The opportunity for this group of young adults to walk in the footsteps of these first Jesuits was especially significant, as this year marks the 500th anniversary of the conversion experience of St Ignatius of Loyola.
Fr Sacha Bermudez-Goldman SJ