Going the Extra Mile for the Bakhita House Project

Three of the intrepid walkers. Dominic Robinson SJ, Professor Sandra McNally and Trieu Nguyen SJ
Dominic Robinson SJ, Professor Sandra McNally and Trieu Nguyen SJ

Starting from the Spanish village of Verdù in Catalonia on 26 September, Fr Dominic Robinson SJ and Fr Trieu Nguyen SJ will be joined by parishioners Marie Wilson and Sandra McNally as they walk for seven days in the footsteps of St Ignatius on part of the “Ignatian Camino” to raise funds for the Westminster Diocese Bakhita House appeal.

Canonised by Pope John Paul II in 2000, St Josephine Bakhita, who died in 1947, is the patron saint of Sudan and is regarded as the patron of victims of human trafficking. Her long plight as a Sudanese-born former slave who later became a Canossian sister in Italy, gives focus to the ongoing appeal to help those subjected to human trafficking in the UK today, with an estimate of up to 13,000 victims.

The Bakhita Project The Bakhita Initiative is a collaborative response to this problem aiming to provide refuge and professional help to those affected. The initiative has been specifically requested by Cardinal Vincent Nichols and is supported by the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales, the Metropolitan Police and religious congregations. Since the Farm Street appeal began, the efforts by many people in the parish, including the 2014 Charity Ball and other dinners, auctions and collections, mean that the appeal is on target, having raised almost one third towards the total of £360,000.

Fr Dominic and Professor Sandra McNally are clearly gluttons for punishment as they are repeating their successful walk last year when they raised funds and increased awareness through prayers, vigils and talks of the plight of refugees in Syria.  This year they hope to do the same for a different cause and will be joined on their challenge by Fr Trieu of the Farm Street Jesuit Community (and one of last year’s ‘Naked Chefs SJ’ fund raisers) and Marie Wilson, who is Spiritual Care Co-ordinator at Ardgowan Hospice in Greenock.

Walking the Ignatian Camino is being established as an official Apostolic Work of the Society of Jesus. The trail runs from Basque country Loyola, the birthplace of St Ignatius, hundreds of kilometres east to the chapel known as “La Cueva” (the cove) near Manresa, where Ignatius gained many insights about spirituality, and where the group will hopefully celebrate Mass together.

Fr Dominic explains that walking the Ignatian Way is different to other walks or pilgrimages, “walking together in a small group, we take an Ignatian theme for each day and we reflect and talk throughout the day, sharing aspects of our faith and lives”. Dominic adds, “contemplating the theme and enjoying the beautiful natural surroundings and each other’s company allows for deeper conversations and getting to know more about your fellow walkers and about yourself”.

Fr Dominic regards taking time to walk long distances with others, while focusing on spiritual themes, as the “new way of doing a retreat” and he likens it to a modern Canterbury Tales. Sandra McNally said, ‘I am looking forward to another beautiful walk - this time at a cooler time of the year”.

We wish the group health, good weather and good fortune. We also look forward to hearing their tales from along the way and possibly a presentation on their experiences later in the year.

To find out more please visit rcdow.org.uk/caritas/human-trafficking, ignatiancamino.com .

To support the parish Bakhita Appeal, go to our Bakhita fundraising page >>>