The Avon Camino

Fr Nino is very grateful to Fr Geoff for sharing
this article with us.


By Fr Geoff Aldous


Over the years I’ve served several terms in the country, and since ‘retiring’ two years ago I’ve had the opportunity of helping out (or ‘supplying’) in many more rural parishes.  I have a special concern for our “country cousins”, who have the challenge of sustaining and passing on the faith in often very small country communities.


By way of encouraging mutual support between city and country, a little day-pilgrimage was organised to visit a number of parishes in the Avon region (hence we called it the “Avon Camino”).  Participants were drawn from parishes of the southern “hub” (Rockingham, Kwinana, Port Kennedy, Baldivis).  A little team was co-opted to organise the day, which was Saturday 9 October.  A small bus was hired to leave from Our Lady of Lourdes church.  Otherwise, people could organise their own transport (car or caravan), which gave more flexibility if they were not able to participate in the whole program.  A busload of parishioners from the Morley area also joined the group.  The total number was over 80, with a good mix of age and ethnicity.


The starting point for the Camino was York, with a gathering for morning tea, followed by Rosary in the Church (it was the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary) and a procession to the Shrine.  A very warm and welcoming introduction was given by a couple from the Brookton area of the parish, with a testimony of their faith experience in a country community.  One of the things mentioned was the support received through a ‘Mothers Prayer Group’, which sparked the interest of several of the city visitors.  It was also the opportunity for parishioners from Rockingham to catch up with the parish priest, Fr Joseph, who had previously been in their parish.


The next step of the journey was to Northam, where we had Benediction in St Joseph’s Church and a shared lunch in the hall.  The presence of the Servite Sisters, who are actively involved in the parish, was much appreciated.


We then moved on to Goomalling, meeting first in the Church, but for those who were able to (it was a very hot day!) then visiting and walking around the old ‘Native Reserve’, guided by local aboriginal elder Basil.  Again, it was also the opportunity for Kwinana parishioners to catch up with parish priest, Fr Daniel Boyd, who had previously been their parish priest.


The last leg of the journey took in the 5pm Saturday Vigil Mass at Toodyay.  We got there a bit early, so quite a number of the pilgrims took the opportunity for Confession or Reconciliation before Mass, at which the little church was filled with visitors and locals.  Then a lovely, shared supper in the garden, before the journey home.


All in all, it was a long but enjoyable day.  It was a day of networking and developing relationships – between city and country, between parishioners within the “Hub”, and parishes north and south of the river.  It could lead to further connections and reciprocal invitations.