Pilgrimage: We Walk by Faith…
We have a walking God! In Jesus God dwells in and among us, walking away from death toward life. Across the Easter season we follow the disciples running from the tomb to spread the Good News to all people. In Mary Ward we have a friend of Jesus who continues to walk into our lives, inspiring, surprising and challenging us at every turn.
On Easter Monday twenty Aussie pilgrims: Sisters, teachers, leaders, Loreto Office, Mary Ward International Australia and Loreto Ministries’ staff, gathered in York to walk on pilgrimage through landscapes in England, France, Belgium and Germany associated with Mary Ward and the early Institute. This was no mere walk down memory lane, but a robust and sincere engagement in Mary’s life and ministry, vision and values, struggles and setbacks. And although we did travel at times by bus, barge, train, ferry and plane, we followed closely in Mary’s footsteps along country paths dotted with Spring wildflowers, up cobbled hills, along ancient walls, into cells, chapels, cathedrals, convents and castles … always in companionship.
The Pilgrimage also invited all to journey across the inner landscapes of faith and friendship, spirituality and searching, meaning making and marvelling at God’s diverse and delightful creations. Befriending Mary Ward at a deeper level was a common highlight. As one pilgrim noted, the pilgrimage…
“has deepened my understanding, appreciation of, and admiration for Mary Ward and her companions both past and present. Mary was a woman of unwavering faith, conviction and strong sense of purpose. She was also a woman of intelligence, compassion, sincerity and integrity. Walking in the historical footsteps of part of the Mary Ward story has provided a stronger and deeper understanding of her life and her legacy.”
We are grateful: to the Province of Loreto Australia and South East Asia and Loreto Ministries for supporting this formation experience; to Anne Muirhead and Sandra Perrett ibvm for their skilful and sensitive leadership; to Maureen O’Dwyer from Pan Australian Travel for practical support; and to the many Mary Ward Sisters who guided and accompanied us along our pilgrim path. In faith, we return to our schools, communities, families and work with a deeper understanding of, and friendship with, ‘that incomparable woman’ and her ‘Friend of all friends.’ We also continue to dwell on the implications of our membership of a unique ‘circle of friends,’ a network linking heaven and earth, and every landscape, inner and outer, in between.
‘Lead us on, Mary Ward…!’
Words: Loreto Ministries Director of Mission, Anne Muirhead.