I am currently Rector of a large rural benefice in Norfolk, England, situated mid way between Norwich and Kings Lynn and not too far from Walsingham, one of the UK’s loveliest pilgrimage destinations.
I serve seventeen parishes, the largest of which has a population of just over 1,000 and the smallest just 8, and we have the care of nineteen medieval church buildings(!).
I have recently become involved in promoting pilgrimage in Norfolk, and have visited the great pilgrimage centre in Vadstena, Sweden, to widen my knowledge of pilgrimage leadership, Spirituality and hospitality. My love of pilgrimage stems from walking many Caminos to Santiago. Between year 2000 and 2005 I walked over six thousand miles of pilgrimage, on seven journeys beginning at different starting points (St Jean Pied de Port (once in summer and once in January), Lisbon, Bury St Edmunds (UK) via Paris, Toulouse, Pamplona and Zamora.
The life-changing and life enhancing benefits of walking a pilgrimage cannot be underestimated, and the Camino to Santiago has a powerful legacy of prayer; paths which have been tramped by millions, praying as they walk, giving even those who least expect it a sense of journeying with God. The value and importance of people along the way who are able to offer kindness, a listening ear, companionship, prayer and encouragement is enormous as any pilgrim will tell you. Arriving in Santiago this is perhaps even more important, which is why the chaplaincy is such a worthwhile ministry and I am delighted to be involved. I look forward to hearing pilgrim stories and helping pilgrims unpack the over abundance of emotions which can often overwhelm on arrival in Santiago, as well as offering prayer ministry and Holy Communion.
Now that my children are almost grown up, my hope is that my pilgrimage walking will resume, and perhaps we will walk as a family one day. Much has changed since I walked my Caminos twenty years ago, but much remains the same; the journeying with God, the ground beneath our feet and the resonance of the prayers of ages past will continue to draw me, and countless others, back time and time again.
I look forward to meeting you, pilgrim friends.