THE CAMINO TO SANTIAGO 2020
The Coronavirus epidemic has ruined the plans of many pilgrims who hoped to walk to Santiago this year. The Camino was closed for some months but gradually as restrictions are eased in Spain and in other countries pilgrims will walk the Way again.
If for any reason you can’t walk this year veteran pilgrims Johnniewalker, Stephen, Kate and Sean will carry your thoughts and prayers with them in August 2020 when they walk both physically and virtually from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago.
They are making this pilgrimage to rebuild confidence in the Camino and to carry with them the intentions of others.
SEND YOUR THOUGHTS, PRAYERS, HOPES AND INTENTIONS
No matter what you believe or what faith you follow, or none, the pilgrims will carry your messages, prayers and hopes every step of the way to Santiago and they will be prayed for at Mass every day.
Send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
REPORTS LIVE FROM THE CAMINO
Most of us are wondering what the Camino will be like in light of the pandemic. Will it be safe? Will there be enough accommodation? Has the experience changed?
Sean will make this pilgrimage on the internet following Johnnie, Stephen and Kate as they walk. There will be regular reports live from the Camino posted on this and other sites. Look out for the “where they are now” feature.
HOW THEIR CAMINO IS ORGANISED
Taking into account age and the general precautions being put in place to stop the spread of infection Johnnie and Stephen will stay in private rooms in hostels, hotels and albergues along the Camino Francés. They have booked some accommodation themselves and they are also accepting the generous assistance of Camino Ways, the travel company who will ensure accommodation is open and is Coronavirus prepared. Kate will be staying in albergues along the route and reporting back on the conditions and the new procedures in place to ensure a safe Camino for the Pilgrim and the albergue host.
Camino Ways is one of a number of commercial companies who arrange pilgrimages in Spain and other places. Using them is not essential. Many pilgrims book their own accommodation either beforehand or as they walk along. However companies such as Camino Ways play an important part in the economy of Spain and many pilgrims to Santiago use them. For this particular Camino we acknowledge that Camino Ways has donated 1000 euros to the Camino Fund which will be used to help donativo albergues and they have offered their assistance for this Camino on a not for profit basis.
ABOUT THE PILGRIMS
Johnnie and Stephen both hail from Scotland where they became friends over 20 years ago. Kate is from the USA and met Johnniewalker on her first Camino in 2007. Sean is from England. He met Johnnie when he became the first volunteer in the Amigos Welcome Service in the Pilgrims’ Office in 2012. In total they have walked many thousands of kilometres in Spain, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom.
Johnniewalker is retired and lives in Santiago where he writes and plays the church organ. He has so far written 15 books about the Camino to Santiago including a range of guidebooks and three Spiritual Companions for pilgrims. In his professional career he was founding Director for Scotland for the National Lottery Charities Board, Chief of Staff to the First Minister of Scotland and founding Chief Executive of UnLtd the UK wide Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs which was awarded the Millenium Legacy of £100 million.
Stephen Shields works in the field of educational support for disadvantaged children in the UK, where he has also been a church cantor for over 40 years. He is a Trustee of the charity SHINE, of which he was the founding Chief Executive. Semi-retired, Stephen walks to Santiago as often every year as he can. He also sings in church when he is there. His early career was as a social worker, working with the young single homeless. After this he studied philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Universities of Rome and Salamanca, before being ordained a Catholic priest.
Kate Stephens is from Dallas, Texas and works as a consultant in the mortgage industry and worked on the Making Home Affordable program with the U.S. Department of the Treasury after the U.S. housing crisis in 2008. Kate met Johnniewalker on her first Camino in 2007. There is a story to be told about that meeting. Keeping in touch over the years, Johnnie and Kate met up on each of her Caminos since.
Having completed five Caminos, Kate plans to volunteer much of the 2021 Holy Year as a Hospitalera, her way of giving back to the Camino experience. She has a long background in volunteering having volunteered in nursing homes, as a Girl Scout Summer Camp Leader, and with Challenge Air, a program that lets children with special needs fly an airplane, helping them realise “the impossible to be much more probable”. Fun fact, Kate travelled the Camino with her father three times and her mother once and encourages everyone to walk a Camino with a family member at least once.
Sean Hampton was the very first volunteer in the Pilgrims’ Office in Santiago when the Amigos Welcome Service was launched in 2012. He is a veteran pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago and has collaborated with Johnnie many times by producing maps for his guidebooks. Sean and his family are frequent visitors to Galicia. They have family connections to Verín and they have all walked the Camino. Sean is an IT specialist as well as being a keyboard player in a rock band! He will make this pilgrimage virtually and will post as the other three walk along the Way.