Walking the St Patrick’s Pilgrimage

By Sam Clear, Caretaker for the Director of the Office of Youth Evangelisation

Why has it taken me so long to join in the St Patrick’s Pilgrimage?

Over the weekend of March 13 and 14 I joined 37 other pilgrims and volunteers as we journeyed together for a two-day, 40-kilometre pilgrimage from St John’s Church in Richmond, to St Patrick’s Church in Colebrook.

The pilgrimage began with a beautiful Mass in St John’s Church, celebrated by His Grace, Archbishop Julian, before stepping out onto the country roads, bush tracks, and private farmland through vineyards, valleys and state forest hilltops. It was brilliant. I’m no novice when it comes to pilgrimage, but this small two-day pilgrimage was… almost perfect.

The pilgrims varied from consecrated life, through to non-Catholics who came simply because they were invited; and to have the opportunity to enter into silence with God in between all the conversations (usually while walking uphill) provided a beautiful balance to each day.

Physically, the pilgrimage hurt a bit. It was a more difficult route than I’d expected.

Yet the need to persevere provided such a brilliant opportunity to support one another both through encouragement and acts of service. It was such a cheer-filled group.

Taking a rest before continuing on with the day’s walk. Photos: Sam Clear.

A few kilometres in, with Richmond fading to the south, I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, this is so good.” I took the job of walking at the back of the pack to ensure no one was ever left behind, so the slower pace perhaps enabled me to focus less on my hourly walking rate and more on the people.

We chatted, we prayed, I occasionally yelled out, “Car from the back!”

The night was spent in a make-shift campsite next to a small shearing shed in a valley I didn’t know existed.

I wish you were there to experience the peacefulness. And as the sun set His Grace and the Sisters of the Immaculata set up adoration for an hour under the stars, with the opportunity for confession (there’s no need for confessional screens in a dark paddock).

Preparing for Eucharistic adoration under the stars.

The pilgrimage was led from the front by the energetic Karl Mittermayer, with amazing support from volunteers Anna and Simon Greener, John Prichard, John Gora, Philip Weston, Tad Matuszek, and Gareth Higgins, plus a host of supporters making the pilgrimage possible, particularly Bernie Brooks, Eamonn Pollard, Craig Deayton, Judith and Brian Andrews, and the wonderful Ella and Martin Tobin.

Upon exiting the concluding Mass at St Patrick’s in Colebrook the sentiment was concise: “See you all next year!”

Beautiful scenery, prayer and conversations were all part of the experience.

Main image: Pilgrims en route from St John’s Church in Richmond to St Patrick’s Church in Colebrook.

Tags: News, Richmond, Saints, Southern Deanery, Youth Evangelisation