One thing that struck me about our pilgrimage last year was the small percentage of Catholics on the Camino.  Don’t get me wrong, we had a presence, but we were certainly the small minority.  I would guess less than 10%. For a pilgrimage that was created for those of faith, Catholic folks have shed their blood sweat and tears for centuries on these very stones under our feet.  In large part, the modern world has secularized this journey.  Today we declare the Reconquista of the Camino!

It is not that I want the Camino to not be enjoyed by all, those of faith and those still searching, it is that I want Christians to revitalize the long-standing tradition of this pilgrimage.  I would love to see us more often break away from the schedule dictated by work, school, sports, activities, and technology consuming our every thought and minute.  I believe there is deep value in this devotion.  There is something about breaking away from the world to reorient on pilgrimage.  I would love to have people once again see the Camino as a sacred pilgrimage for Christians.  I want to see the Camino Fully Alive once again.

To work toward this goal, I want to be a witness on this journey.  Someone that puts the Catholic back in the Camino.  One idea I had to show our Catholic witness along the Way, was to carry a processional cross similar to the one they carry on the Father Kapaun Pilgrimage every year in Kansas.  Pilgrims take turns carrying the cross 60 miles during the journey.  I asked my uncle who is a talented carpenter and he jumped at the opportunity to help us out.  Then I told him the bad news, I need to transport that Cross across the ocean on a plane.  I would need the cross to break down into pieces so it could be transported.  That didn’t scare him away and he got to work with a friend.

Cross of St. James (left) & final product (right)

Cross broken down for transport

Today we took that cross to the Diocesan Offices for the Diocese of Wichita to be blessed by Bishop Kemme.  Several of the pilgrims were able to make it out to join us as the Bishop blessed our upcoming journey. A total of 31 will be going this year.  Two priests, thirteen dads, and their respective sons.  Many of us have never met, but we will all be united in Spain in the coming days.