CEWA group provide testimonials at completion of Spanish Camino

10 August 2023

Camino de Santiago pilgrims representing Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) agreed their experiences of the 121km walk over 6 days as a group was an unforgettable ‘once in a lifetime’ experience.

The Camino de Santiago follows in the footsteps of Spanish Benedictine monk Dom Rosendo Salvado from Santiago in Spain, who established the monastery in New Norcia, WA.

The group walked from Tui (the birthplace of Rosendo Salvado) and ended at the Cathedral of Santiago in Compostela, which houses the tomb of St James.

Eva Skira, Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia Chair said she felt deeply encouraged by the positive attitudes of the eleven young Catholic teachers and staff who undertook this pilgrimage.

‘The grit, determination and resilience of our young walkers to finish the Camino was inspirational. In their steps, I felt the presence of God.

‘As Commission we need to be greatly attentive to our mission, vision and the future.

It will be our people who will create and be our future.  Having witnessed their Camino journey this past week I am very confident in the capacity and commitment of our young Catholic teachers and staff.

‘I also acknowledge Mandy Connor who led our CEWA Camino, Ryan Shelton as her assistant and Debra Sayce who walked with us.  All truly inspirational CEWA leaders.’

Janica Sell, from Our Lady Star of the Sea said, ‘As I walked those final steps into the square of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela I was overcome with emotions of relief, accomplishment and gratitude.’

Sarah Clairs, from Sacred Heart College said the Camino was a huge journey both physically and spiritually.

‘There was pain, blisters and tears but the connection and relationships we formed with God, nature, others and ourselves helped us make it to the end. The support, courage, kindness and laughter of the group was what carried everyone through and made it an experience that will be cherished forever.’

Rochelle Brush, St Dominics School said, ‘Through this Camino, I learned the profound importance of gratitude and practicing thankfulness for the people, nature, and little things that enriched the pilgrimage. I am excited to share my learnings from the Portuguese Way of St James with my school and classroom.’

‘What an unforgettable experience from the prayers, laughter, photos and conversation together on the way to Santiago. Kindness of other humans along the way bought joy to my heart that I cannot express. We journeyed the final stretch into Santiago together, sore and tired but happy and waiting in anticipation. The music, joy, relief and happiness of coming into the square will stay with me forever,’ said Hannah Davies, St Mary’s Broome.

Josie Cooper, who works at the Catholic Education Office in Leederville said, ‘The journey was long and at times incredibly difficult, but seeing the group persevere and help each other get through the tough moments to reach the end was truly a once in a lifetime experience that will be cherished forever.’

‘There was a lot of different emotions while walking into the square at the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela. The experience of pilgrimage has been incredible while also being rewarding. Walking with God, with self, with others and with nature has been both reflective and an enlightening experience,’ said Kiera Moore, from Our Lady of Fatima Palmyra.

‘The long trek to Santiago de Compostela was an amazing and reflective journey allowing me to put aside the distractions of the world and engaging in the spiritual inward journey. Making the final pilgrimage to the tomb of St James was a defining moment where my personal journey as a Catholic felt strongly connected to the mission of faith, hope, and love given to the apostles,’ added Joshua Wells, St Joseph’s School, Waroona.

Ana Frankovic, from Lumen Christi College said, there are no words to describe how amazing this experience was.

‘It truly gives the opportunity to be one with self, God and nature. The experience has been incredibly fulfilling and one I will forever be grateful for.’

Nicole Pearce, also based in the Leederville Office said ‘The pilgrim experience has been an enlightening, spiritual, and personal journey towards a deeper friendship and relationship with God, others, and myself. This once in a lifetime experience shared with my fellow CEWA staff is unlike any other I will have in my career.’

Emma-Jane Potter, from Mercy College said, ‘It has been amazing to have the opportunity to do such a personal, challenging and transformative faith journey in union with so many other likeminded people.’

‘For me the Camino was a transformative pilgrimage filled with faith, breathtaking landscapes, and sacred encounters. My heart overflowed with renewal and spiritual connection, creating cherished memories with fellow pilgrims and colleagues,’ Alexa Pagnoni, Servite College concluded.

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