Newsletter 13: 10 September 2019
In preparing a large host of students over many months from multiple schools for World Youth Day, Madrid in 2011, the credo “I’m a pilgrim, not a tourist!” was repeatedly impressed upon the young people by the adult leaders. In part, this was to build a robust mindset for the inevitable challenges to comfort, convenience, patience and energy. Of course, primarily the credo was to focus the group on the real purpose of the journey: a faith experience.
After all the careful and detailed preparations, you can imagine the dismay when, two hours after take-off from Sydney, we were alerted by the cabin crew of an order for “Gin and Tonics” by three young pilgrims. Quickly averting delivery, a full investigation was conducted immediately with interviews, written statements and very serious faces accompanied by complex musical chairs as the three culprits were isolated from one another, and the depth of their transgression analysed. The fallen pilgrims were informed they would be on the first plane back home from Dubai if unable to convince the Pilgrim Leaders of their remorse and commitment to more trustworthy behaviour. This was to be demonstrated by lengthy written dissertation, due an hour before landing. After many drafts and much critique, upon descent into Dubai, the verdict was handed down. The fallen pilgrims had convincingly redeemed themselves.
Whilst notoriety among their peers was inevitable, to their great credit all three were model pilgrims throughout the remaining time together. Sincere, thoughtful, and completely engaged, whenever the going got tough they would lead the throng in unison with “I’m a pilgrim, not a tourist!”.
Later this month, during the next school holidays, the Marist Pilgrimage will commence involving teachers and staff from across the country. The character of the Marist Pilgrimage, honed and refined over many years, is built on prayer, reflection, learning, fellowship, and encounter with God. Commencing in the Holy Land, under the guidance of Brother Michael Green, Brother Neville Solomon and Ms Liz Falconer, the Pilgrims will trace the steps of Jesus and familiar stories from the Gospels. Jesus will become known in new ways for each of the pilgrims. The second phase of the pilgrimage is spent in Rome, where the pilgrims will experience a sample of the rich diversity of expression of faith and Catholic tradition over many centuries. The final phase will see the pilgrims in France, walking the physical and spiritual paths Saint Marcellin trod 200 years ago, as he answered God’s call. Many who have been on pilgrimage will tell you the experience is life changing.
As the well known hymn reminds us, we are all pilgrims on a journey. Over the coming weeks, our Year 12 students will be completing a stage in their own journey. Like the three fallen pilgrims, they will be confronted with all manner of opportunity and possibility, failure and forgiveness. As students who attended Marist schools, may they consciously live a meaningful journey with God, characterised by prayer, reflection, learning, fellowship, and encounter. May their life credo ever be
“I’m a pilgrim, not a tourist!”