August 1-8 2020

The Guelph Walking Pilgrimage was started in 2002 by Robin and Jean Fishburn along with 4 friends.  It was inspired by the Toronto Polish Walking Pilgrimage which had begun in 1983 and by the 2001 Kitchener-Waterloo Walking Pilgrimage in which Jean Fishburn took part.  Since that first Guelph Walking Pilgrimage of 2002, Robin has worked tirelessly coordinating, mapping, and organizing host sites.  He eagerly invites one and all to join the Guelph Walking Pilgrimage for a day, a weekend or a week…Just come!

Each year the number of pilgrims who join the Guelph Walking Pilgrimage has continued to rise. In 2019, 120 walkers took part in either one day or the entire 8 day-pilgrimage. There have likely been over 500 individual pilgrims that have walked the “Camino” from Guelph.  Many pilgrims return year after year.

This year we are not able to walk the pilgrimage as it has been done for the last 18 years.  The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a prohibition on large gatherings throughout the summer and the Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland remains closed until 2021. We feel that the pilgrimage experience is too important to cancel completely. Our best option is to offer you a virtual pilgrimage.

How Does a Virtual Pilgrimage Work?

Following registration, pilgrims will participate from their homes. 

Daily group activities will include:

  1. Morning Liturgy at 7 a.m.
  2. Morning reflection to set the tone for your day.
  3. Some suggestions for activities for each day.
  4. Pictures, reflections, music from past years.
  5. Sacred Circles using Zoom at 7pm for sharing in small groups the experiences of your pilgrimage that day.

As a pilgrim, you are welcome to participate as much or as little as you can in the day’s activities.

How will I Prepare for the Pilgrimage?

In the past, comments were often shared about how the Guelph Walking pilgrimage ran like clockwork and how the pilgrims were so well-supported physically (great food, shelter, medical attention when needed), mentally (terrific conversations and encouragement from fellow pilgrims) and spiritually (liturgies, homilies, the daily reflection and in the Sacred Circles).  This year we will not be able to provide the same level of physical support due to our physical separation, but in its place we will offer some technical support.  While we can try to troubleshoot connecting to the virtual gatherings, you will be on your own for meals, accommodations, routes, and foot care. Videos will be provided each day to support your pilgrimage. Spiritual support will be provided each morning by Fr. Raphael Ma (C.R.) and various Jesuit clergy.

Plan a daily walk

Plan your route, rest spots, food delivery, water delivery and drop off and pick up if needed. You can use online apps like “Map my run” (free) to plan your route.

Plan your meals

We eat well on the pilgrimage. This year, we will provide some recipe ideas.

Plan your accommodation

Consider tenting in your own back yard or set up a fort in your basement or spare room. 

Plan for foot care 

Supply list: bandages, mole skin, blister packs, foot powder, duct tape, Epsom salts (half cup per tub) and a plastic tub for soaking your feet at the end of your walk. An instructional video will be provided by Dr. Robin Fishburn.

Plan for prayer

Consider gathering prayer petitions from friends, neighbours, health-care workers, retirement homes, inmates or others for your pilgrimage. Plan a place to burn your petitions on the last day.   Consider praying the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, Stations of the Cross or other devotions.   Consider journaling.  Plan to carry a stone and a place where you will leave your stone on the third day.

How Can I Participate in the Pilgrimage?  

The pilgrims will gather at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. online. 

The morning gathering will begin with a Mass and be followed by a reflection and an introduction to the Canadian Martyr of the day.  The normal destination of our Pilgrimage is Martyr’s Shrine so the history and sacrifice of the Jesuits that planted the seed of Christianity and Christian values in Canada is celebrated.  While the stories of 400 years ago are told, we are mindful of the impact of colonial attitudes and abuses on the Indigenous Peoples of this land.

Plan your day to be a spiritual day as much as you are able.  You may wish to consider:

  • Walking 5, 10, 25 km or 10 000 steps
  • Find a new trail each day or start at a new point on the same trail each day
  • Biking or working on an outdoor project
  • A social media vacation
  • Periods of silence
  • Online prayer resources
  • A vacation from meals, snacks, coffee prepared outside of home
  • A vacation from a troublesome habit, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine or other
  • Inspirational movie
  • Holy Land tour documentaries
  • Limit use of water, electricity, vehicles

Join other pilgrims for a zoom conference at 7pm.  There will be photos and music recorded from previous years.  You will be invited into a small group for sharing of your day’s experience which could include an answer to prayer or a photo from your walk.

As a pilgrim, you are welcome to participate as much or as little as you like in the day’s activities.

How Can I Register for the Pilgrimage?

Go to the registration form here. 

How Can I Support the Pilgrimage?

Normally an adult pays $250 and a youth under the age of 18 pays $100 to participate in the Guelph Walking Pilgrimage. While a great deal of the registration fee goes toward the cost of food and the cost to rent trucks and portable toilets, donations are also made to the churches that host pilgrims.  This includes donations to the Ignatius Jesuit Centre and the Martyrs’ Shrine. Even though we will not physically stay on these sites this year, the organizing committee has honoured our donations to all of our host sites for 2020. 

If you are able, we ask that you make a donation to the Ignatius Jesuit Centre in gratitude for your experience of the Virtual Pilgrimage.

Please make any donation in memory of Sean Farrelly who was our fearless truck-driver, discount-negotiator, problem-solver, and fixer of all things mechanical from 2006 to 2019. Sean died unexpectedly on October 27, 2019.  With donations collected in his memory, a bench was installed at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre. Surplus donations at that time and all donations now will support the ministry of IJC which has been devastated by the closure of Loyola House Retreat Centre due to Covid-19.  As we remember Sean’s trademark Irish charm, we ask that he watch over the Guelph Virtual Pilgrimage of 2020. 

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