By Fr Geoff Aldous
Over the years, I’ve served several terms in the country, and since retiring two years ago, I’ve had the opportunity of helping out or supplying in many more rural parishes.
I have a special concern for our country cousins, who have the challenge of sustaining and passing on the faith in often very small country communities,
By way of encouraging mutual support between city and country a day pilgrimage was organised to visit a number of parishes in the Avon region.
Hence, we called it, the Avon Camino.
Participants were drawn from parishes of the Southern hub, including Rockingham, Kwinana, Port Kennedy and Baldivis.
A little team was co-ordinated to organise the day held on Saturday, 7 October, and a small bus was hired to leave from Our Lady of Lourdes Church Rockingham.
Participants could also organise their own transport or caravan which gave more flexibility if they were not able to participate in the whole program, and a bus load of parishioners from Morley also joined the group.
The total number of people attending the pilgrimage was more than 80, with a good mix of age and ethnicity.
The starting point for the Avon Camino was York with a gathering for morning tea, followed by rosary in the church, as it was the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, followed by a procession to the shrine.
A very warm and welcoming introduction was given by a couple from the Brookton area of the parish with a testimony of their faith experience in a country community.
One of the things mentioned was the support received through a Mother’s Prayer Group which sparked the interest of several of the city visitors.
It was also the opportunity for parishioners from Rockingham to catch up with former Parish Priest Father Joseph.
The next step of the journey was on to Northern where we had Benediction in St Joseph Church and a shared lunch in the hall.
The presence of the Servite Sisters who are actively involved in the Parish was much appreciated.
We then moved onto Goomalling meeting first in the Church and for those were able, (it was a very hot day) visiting and walking around the old native reserve guided by local aboriginal elder Basil.
Again, it was also the opportunity for Kwinana parishioners to catch up with former Kwinana Parish Priest Fr Daniel Boyd.
The last leg of the journey took in the 5pm Saturday virtual Mass at Toodyay, with a number of pilgrims taking up the opportunity for confession or reconciliation before Mass, with the little church filled with visitors and locals, after which a shared supper in the garden took place before the journey home.
All in all it was a long but enjoyable day. It was a day of networking and developing relationships between city and country between parishioners within the hub and parishes north and south of the river – with the hope it will lead to further connections and reciprocal invitations.