Anne O'Donnell shares on Santiago


Echoes from the summer

pilgrims_exhausted_having_just_arrived
Pilgrims, exhausted, having just arrived at the Oficina

This year, as last year, the rscj in Santiago de Compostela
collaborated with the local Church in Santiago,
offering support to the Pilgrims as they arrived into
the Pilgrim’s Office (‘Oficina de Peregrinos’) in Santiago.

anne_odonnellpf
 Anne O'Donnell





A reduced programme was organised this year
due to the World Youth Day being organised in Madrid.
 Anne O'Donnell, a teacher in Mount Anville Junior School
and an rscj colleague,
along with Eileen Lawless rscj, also from Ireland,
Amparo Fernández-Vega rscj from Cuba, but presently in
Granada,

and Ma. Carmen Diaz rscj (Mamen) from Spain
also formed the community.


Anne shares here her reflection on the experience.

It was a great privilege to be asked once again this year

to become part of the Sacred Heart "Community in Mission".
It is a mission of loving availability to the multitudes,
from diverse backgrounds, who walked the century’s old, well-worn tracks
to Santiago de Compostella.


A warm welcome awaited me on arrival at the community in Virgen de Cerca.
  

mamen_2010
Ma. Carmen Diaz rscj (Mamen)
amparo_2010
Amparo Fernández-Vega rscj

The atmosphere
was very relaxed and

I felt very much at home.

We quickly became

an international and

highly compatible
Irish, Spanish -Cuban
community.

Prayer preceded our initial meeting
with the officials of the
Archdiocesan Pilgrimage Office.
This was a welcome development on the previous year.

 

Our daily work there was a very enjoyable,
multi- pronged social and emotional experience.
We were able to listen to the mainly Spanish,
but significantly disparate international community,
who came to collect their "Compostella"

anne_odonnell_mamen_and_an_irish_pilgrim
Mamen, Anne & Irish pilgrim Barry at Office


We tried to "hear their experiences :
their expressions of faith,
their quest for meaning,
their hopes, their fears and
all too frequently their sorrows.
A surprising number were middle- aged males,
who recently were painfully coming to terms
with the void in their lives.
We gently encouraged all, where appropriate,
to contact their local fraternity of
Saint James,
on their return home .


Sr. Eileen Lawless made generous use

of her excellent Spanish and mediation skills
to intercede on behalf of those who
unwittingly fell foul of the requirement,
  

dutch_girls_with_kitten_plus_gallegan_friend_and_eileen_rscj
                 Two Dutch girls, with their Gallegan friend and Eileen,
                who had walked the Camino, from Rotterdam in Holland,
                           on a journey of faith for two months.
         They rescued this kitten, somewhere before 100 kms. from Santiago.
              In the process of caring for the kitten and their fellow pilgrims,
                                 they did not know how to get the
                    two stamps a day required to receive the 'Compostela'
                                   - the  Pilgrims Certificate.
                       Caring for the Earth and all her creatures
                       is an important part of their faith also and
                           they were very clear about that.
                The Camino had been an amazing experience and
                          the gift of the kitten was part of that !

to have two stamps every day,
for the last 100 kms of
the Camino
.
It is reasonable to suppose that
these actions
may have
"conquered a new generation
for Christ"
(Pope John Paul 11 at Knock in 1979)


Our Pastoral Care mission
extended to animals also,

ensuring that souls were reached
when those who

– in the spirit of St. Francis-
prioritised the care of animals over
the need to conform to regulations.
Indeed in the last two days of our mission,
we seemed to have - at least some of the characteristics of an animal sanctuary.

I hope and pray that those pilgrims, we met during this time,
received from us a positive experience of
the Christian Community we tried to serve.

Anne M.ODonnell