Sam, a final-year student at the University of Exeter, joined the Columban Missionaries during Laudato Si’ Week this year, following in the footsteps of St Columban to reflect on ‘the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor’. We wanted to share his reflections in the run up to Season of Creation (1 September- 4 October) when we are all invited to give thanks for God’s Creation and reflect on our responsibilities to care for our common home.
A pilgrim group of ordained and lay Columban missionaries and co-workers, led by Director, Fr John Boles, walked from Padstow to Fowey in Cornwall from 24-27 May 2023. They drew inspiration from St Columban, who embarked on his missionary journey to Europe more than 1400 years ago. The pilgrims called to mind places served by Columban Missionaries today, in Britain and around the world.
Sam talked to Deborah Fisher, Environmental lead for the Diocese of Plymouth, about his experiences:
Tell us what prompted you to take part in this pilgrimage?
‘The Columbans got in touch and said it would be nice to have a young person from the Diocese of Plymouth to join them on their walk and I decided it was a nice way to show the support of young people from University of Exeter. I also wanted to celebrate their charism.’
What did you learn along the way?
‘We had a lot of time for reflection, and I learned not just about the Columbans and ecology but also a lot about myself and the people I was travelling with. It challenged a lot of my perceptions about people. When you journey with them you change the way you view people, and I took that into my encounter with people afterwards. It was nice to learn how to listen again.’
What did you enjoy the most?
‘The company I had along the way and the conversations. The scenery was beautiful and the opportunity to reflect about Creation was eye opening. The most important were the interactions with the parish communities we met along the way. It was also an opportunity for parishes to have a big community event and come together in a way they might not have done for a while.’
What was the hardest part of the pilgrimage?
‘Besides sleeping on the church floor, the hardest part was the initial step of saying yes and getting involved as I didn’t know any of the people I was going with, and it was a big step for me to say yes. But when I met them, I thought that was the hardest part over with!’
Would you recommend this pilgrimage to others?
‘I would certainly recommend it to others. The journey took in all aspects of creation from the smallest of flowers to great landscapes. It was a potent chance to truly admire Creation. Anyone can follow the pilgrimage starting at any place. The journey we took was perhaps the ideal way to do it – but anyone can find a reflection in the pilgrimage booklet that will have something to say to them.’
Live Simply is part of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, which was recently launched and supports communities to journey towards full sustainability in the holistic spirit of integral ecology.