A Pilgrim People

07-15-2018Pastor's LetterDeacon Bob and Donna Pierce

Dear St. Mary’s Family,

We want to thank Fr. Wilson for allowing us to share his column. From May 26 to June 7, we had the privilege of walking the Camino Primitivo, the original pilgrimage route to the body of St. James the Apostle in Compostela, Spain. This route is shorter (only 210 miles) than the route Fr. Wilson took a couple years ago, but was more remote and mountainous. It was quite a pilgrimage, beginning at the cathedral in Oviedo that contains the head cloth (cf. Jn 20:8) at Jesus’ burial, which is different than the shroud that covered his body. Our first rest day came eight days later in Lugo, where the cathedral has maintained perpetual adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist for over 1000 years. We experienced the pageantry of a Eucharistic procession in Lugo on the Feast of Corpus Christi. The pilgrimage ended in Compostela, at the relics of St. James, the brother of St. John the Evangelist.

Averaging 17.5 miles per day, the journey was not without trials, pain, fatigue, discouragement, fog . . . and rain. But the abundance of graces and blessings we received from so many different sources is hard to explain unless you have experienced this type of pilgrimage. Although we have previously made pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Rome, this trip was very different and, at the same time, more like our everyday lives. Yes, God was clearly there in the stunning and varied beauty of northwest Spain. And we felt His Presence in the cathedrals, at the shrines, in Eucharistic Adoration, praying together, during peaceful walking, and at times of quiet reflection, all away from the commotion of the world. We expected that on pilgrimage.

Perhaps what we could not appreciate was the way He would also make Himself known in new friends from around the world, shared meals, periods of rest, seeing our shadows, routine conversations, living simply, fresh clothes, hot showers, comfortable beds, nights of uninterrupted sleep, and even in the trials, fog, and rain. As mentioned above, in many regards it was like our everyday lives.

Throughout it all, our parish family was in our prayers, and we are grateful for so many of you who prayed for us. Those prayers bore fruit on many occasions where we were given access to locked churches, unexpectedly attended Mass, and ominous weather forecasts became calm rain-free days. We are not big Facebook users, but we made the sacrifice of becoming just proficient enough to share pictures of our trip with many of you.

We would also like to end this column by alerting you to a future event in which we will share our trip with you – the pictures, the experiences, the personal insights, and the continued lessons since we returned to Aiken. On Tuesday evening, September 18th, we will be having a fun day of sharing and reflection on our pilgrimage and on being a pilgrim people. Keep a look out for announcements in the bulletin. We hope that you will be able to join us.

Yours in Christ,

Deacon Bob and Donna Pierce