For the third consecutive year the Secretariat for Evangelization of the Province of Madrid, with the support of the Conference of Redemptorists of Europe, has established an international community for the pastoral care of pilgrims on the “Camino de Santiago”, in Astorga (Spain).
This year the international community was composed of 20 Religious and lay Redemptorists: 3 priests CSsR (2 Prov. Madrid and 1 Prov. Buenos Aires); 1 deacon CSsR (Prov. London); 4 students CSsR (1 Prov. St. Clement and 3 Prov. France), and 12 lay people from Spain (Granada – 6, Madrid -2, Zaragoza – 2, Jaen – 1 and Seville – 1). Every one of the volunteers worked at least one or two weeks in Astorga.
The community served the pilgrims from 1st July to 16th August 2015. The members of the community spent several hours every day welcoming pilgrims on the streets of Astorga. This welcome consisted mostly in dialogue and in an invitation for the Pilgrim Prayer-Blessing which took place in our church every evening. In addition it was also connected to the simple gestures of hospitality (fresh water, information, the seal for the pilgrims, etc.). The priests were also available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, for the celebration of the Eucharist and for the Pilgrim-Blessing. Each evening at 20:30 the community led the special Night Prayer and the Blessing of the Pilgrims in several languages.
During these 47 days of this pastoral work this year, the community members met thousands of pilgrims on the streets, and 1190 pilgrims took part in the evening prayer service. The biggest groups of pilgrims were from: Spain, Italy, France, Germany, USA, Great Britain, Poland, Canada and Korea.
The objectives of this temporary Interprovincial Community from the very beginning are:
a) to manifest the Redemptorist missionary charism with boldness and creativity;
b) to learn how to be a real witness of Jesus in such an international setting as the “Camino de Santiago”.
c) to respond to the Priorities of the Conference of Redemptorists of Europe, which include establishing a common European space for pastoral work with youth and lay adults.
d) to continue learning about establishing an international community of Religious and laity, which shares our common Redemptorist mission.
Manuel Cabello CSsR,
Secretariado de Evangelización. Prov. de Madrid.