“My Camino” Fr. John McGowan, Discalced Carmelites

The imposing front facade of the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela – destination for all those walking the Camino de Santiago!

I had wanted to walk the Camino ever since I went by on pilgrimage by coach to Compostella. I watched people arriving in the main square and I could see the joy on their faces, sometimes tears, and I wanted to experience what they had experienced.

The start of the walk at St. Jean

So I set off from St Jean in the French Pyrenees back in September 2018. Due to time restrictions I could only walk 12 days. But it was such a wonderful experience that I was determined to return last year to complete it, which I did.

It took me 19 days to arrive in Santiago. I can say it was one of the most fulfilling experiences I have had in my life. I loved so much about it, beginning with the people I met and the conversations I had. Walking and talking are so conducive. You meet people of all ages and nationalities; it is a truly catholic experience. I loved the countryside, the villages and towns. There is so much culture in Spain, far away from the Costa del Sol and all the other Costas. Each day I could pray my rosary first thing in the morning, then usually get to Mass in the evening; these gatherings at Mass were some of the most moving experiences: on one occasion I was reduced to tears.

The above pic is of me on “My Camino!”

I can recommend the Camino for anyone who is thinking about their future and what to do. You will have so much time to think and reflect on your own, but also when you engage in conversations with others, who are often in the same situation as you are. Over the course of the Camino you will meet the same people most days, and make friends; a few will become life-long friends.  Some go just for a week, others, who have more time, for the entire Camino; roughly 33-35 days.

For many people the Camino is a life-changing experience. Your life will never be quite the same again.  It is certainly something you will never regret.

Cameras out during the Pilgrim Mass in the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela!

Fr John will be the Spiritual Director on a Camino Pilgrimage 10 to 17 August 2020. Please see YouEVENTS for further information. Only 6 spaces are remaining!

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