Pilgrimage: ‘An Exploration Of Faith, History, Culture and Fellowship’

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Our group in the square outside the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The Cathedral marked the end of our pilgrimage.

From April 24 to May 2, nine Notre Dame students, two teachers and 16 family members and community friends took part in a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It was a very special and unique way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Notre Dame’s annual pilgrimage for the developing world. We encountered many pilgrims from all over the world walking in faith and solidarity. While in Portugal, we also had the opportunity to visit Fatima, Guimaraes, Braga and Porto – the entire trip was an exploration of faith, history, culture and fellowship. Many thanks to those who supported this trip and helped make it happen, most notably  principal Ralph DeFazio and Ineke Brinkman of Brinkman Travel. – Carol Berkhout.

Editor’s note: Students who took part in the pilgrimage were asked to write short reminiscences about the experience for posting on the blog. So far two provided responses as did one parent. They appear below. If others care to do so and to submit a photo that is special to them, they can still send responses and images to: joe0606barko@gmail.com

By Mary Petriw

What was the Camino experience like for me? It was a question I heard a lot after the trip, but I could never find a good answer for it. It has taken me a while to reflect on what this trip has meant to me.


From left: Mary, Phyllis, Ernestine

First off, I can talk about one of the easiest thing that comes to mind when I think about this trip, the social experience. The camaraderie and companionship that we all felt towards one another. There was no one left behind at the end of our group, no matter how long it took. I could sense some anxiety at the beginning of the trip for the student and adult groups but by the end of the trip, we were all joking and laughing together.

It was about family for me. Having my mom and grandma on the trip creates a special connection in our family that I’ll always treasure.

Lastly, spiritually. I had a tough time with this one and it took a lot of reflection for me to find an answer. I think everyone took their time to reflect and have their own spiritual journey. Overall, it has been one of the greatest experiences that I know I will remember always.

By Phyllis Colton

The trip to Portugal and Spain was special to me because I did it with my daughter Mary and mother-in-law (Ernestine Petriw). I tried to prepare, and still wasn’t in good shape – but I am proud to say I walked those 53 km!

I enjoy seeing Mary interacting with other people- maybe that is special because I am a parent.  I really loved when we sat down to our communal meals, and talked about our day, and getting to know one another.  Wayne was really good to stick with me on the last day – that was pretty special too. It was pretty amazing when I saw the crypt where the bones of St. James are – this was an apostle who walked with Jesus.

I loved the countryside; we were blessed that the weather was clear and not too hot. Seeing all the other pilgrims, thinking about the people who have made the same journey over the centuries, how easy we had it compared to so many others, the meaning of a pilgrimage – my head still spins!

By Kaitlyn Michener

Personally, visiting Spain and Portugal was the experience of a lifetime. I made amazing connections with everyone who came on the trip and brought back many memories.

To me, the trip meant a lot because our group got to visit the place and walk the path that inspired the pilgrimage at Notre Dame.

Meeting people from all over the world and learning why they were walking the pilgrimage was amazing. In my opinion, the highlight of the trip was all of the connections I made with new people while being able to explore a new place and see new things.


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