Pilgrims on a journey with Jesus

By Wendy Shaw

Palm Sunday pilgrims were urged to unite their thoughts with Jesus as they set off on a 5km walk through the Launceston suburb of Invermay and Heritage Forest.

More than 50 people took part in the second annual pilgrimage from St Finn Barr’s Catholic Church, returning to an evening open air Mass and sausage sizzle in the grounds of Sacred Heart Catholic School.

The event on Sunday 24 March encouraged parishioners to seek spiritual reflection and prayer time in God’s quiet outdoor environment, with Palm Sunday as the theme.

Launceston Parish Priest Fr Leonard Caldera, who blessed the pilgrims before they set off, explained: “The main thing is to unite our thoughts on this pilgrimage with Jesus as he went into Jerusalem.

“Reflect on how we feel and compare it with Jesus’ journey, so it is more meaningful as we approach the sacred Triduum.”

People of all ages, including a number of family groups, took part, carrying palm frond crosses with them on their journey.

Launceston Parish Pastoral Council member Paul Mannion said that for some, the pilgrimage was a ‘walk in the park’ while for others it provided a ‘bit more of a challenge’.

“We are going to go along some straight paths, some windy paths, even surfaces and some rough surfaces,” he told pilgrims.

Launceston Parish Priest Fr Leonard Caldera, front left, and Parish Pastoral Council member Paul Mannion, front right, distribute palm fronds and reflection leaflets to pilgrims at St Finn Barr’s Church, Invermay. Photo: Wendy Shaw

“They might represent times in our life when things are going well but also when there might be challenges.

“We might also see some people who are less fortunate than ourselves. Pope Francis, in his message for World Day of the Poor, invites us to take responsibility for the poor in our society and stresses the importance of putting our faith into practice through personal involvement and that might prompt us to reflect on how we might respond with love while respecting the dignity of each person.

“We will go along suburban streets where the pace starts to slow and we will be going into nature, along the river into the forest, which might be our desert time where there are moments of stillness. Eventually we return from our desert time back into the reality of our life.”

Pilgrims were urged to reflect on their emotions as they imagined they were walking with Jesus to Jerusalem in the knowledge that some who welcomed Him would soon betray Him.

They were also asked to think about the disciples’ experiences during Holy Week, including moments of doubt, denial or confusion. And they were urged to think more deeply on how they welcome Jesus into their lives.

The pilgrimage this year follows the success of the Palm Sunday walk in 2023, which was in a slightly different format, leaving St Finn Barr’s and travelling a 10km route through trails, reserves and parks before arriving at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Newstead, for a Vigil Mass.

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