Catholic Education WA staff have this week embarked on a 114km Camino ahead of the World Youth Day pilgrimage in Lisbon, Portugal from 1 to 6 August 2023.
The Camino (the way) to Santiago is a 1,000-year-old pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago.
This Cathedral houses the tomb of the Apostle Saint James, which as of the 9th century, turned it into one of the most important Christian sanctuaries, receiving pilgrims from all over the world.
Iona Presentation College Deputy Principal, Ryan Shelton, who is the World Youth Day CEWA facilitator said the group consisting of 15 office and school staff had undergone a 12-month formation program which both involved the physical and spiritual aspect.
“The physical part involved a lot of training and practice for the Camino de Santiago and the spiritual formation took place individually and in a group setting,” Mr Shelton said.
Since arriving in Europe, the group has spent time in Porto, Portugal, exploring the history and connections there.
Catholic Education Western Australia Executive Director Dr Debra Sayce spent a day at Fatima.
The group then transferred across the border to Tui, Spain, the birthplace of Perth Bishop Rosendo Salvado and the start of Camino de Santiago on Monday, 24 July.
The Camino is scheduled to take six days from Tui to Santiago de Compostella.
“We have been to Mass at the Tui Cathedral, explored the city, visited the home Salvado grew up in and completed our last couple of practice walks,” Mr Shelton said.
“The group have also gathered for nightly reflections where we have each considered our spiritual preparedness. One of the highlights of our Camino will be on Tuesday 25 July which is the Feast of St James,” he continued.
“…I am so proud of the group and the way in which they have so professionally thrown themselves at every experience thus far. Personally, walking the Camino has been a dream of mine for over 10 years, there is so much anticipation for what I am about to do,” he concluded.
Dr Sayce explained the group is in amazing countryside, with glorious weather and the anticipation of beginning the Camino is high.
“Spending time with God, with self, with others and the creation as we begin the well-trodden journey to Santiago is a most wonderful gift,” Dr Sayce said.
St Mary’s College Broome staff Hannah Davies said there are a lot of emotions for what lays ahead.
“There is a feeling of excitement, anxiousness and a feeling of being at peace for the journey that we are about to commence,” Ms Davies said.
“Getting to know one another has been a special experience as we anticipate what comes ahead, together,” she said.
Our Lady Star of the Sea Esperance teacher, Janica Sell said she feels extremely grateful for the group around her and for the journey ahead.
“I am feeling anxious for what is to come but I look forward to the challenge and proving to myself I can make it to the finish line in Santiago,” she said.
The mission of World Youth Day is to facilitate a safe and supported experience which will enable young educators from CEWA to deepen their personal faith, broaden their understanding of the Catholic Church, form enriching relationships with other young Catholics, and respond to God in their life encouraged by the words of Mary which are given as the theme for World Youth Day 2019: ‘I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your Word.’