Following the Way of Saint James

By Pete Sanchez
Under plentiful sun and a cool, constant breeze, walkers from across the Diocese of Camden converged at Holy Trinity Parish for a day of fellowship, prayer, and a stroll on the Jersey boardwalk.

The day, called “Following the Way of Saint James on the Road to Life,” was sponsored by Vitality Catholic Healthcare Services, as a way to celebrate and support the health and well-being of parents and grandparents.

Starting at Ventnor’s Saint James Church at 9 a.m. for morning prayer, the group of 100 then proceeded to the boardwalk and walked 1.5 miles to Margate’s Blessed Sacrament Church, praying together along the way.

After rest, refreshment and Eucharistic Adoration, the pilgrims made their way back to Saint James for a closing Mass and lunch. Addressing all gathered during Mass, Deacon Jerry Jablonowski, executive director of Vitality Catholic Healthcare Services, called them “witnesses to the faith,” inspired by the apostle Saint James, the patron of pilgrim travelers.

Dating back to medieval times, The Camino de Santiago (Way of Saint James) is a network of pilgrims’ paths that end at the shrine of Saint James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, where it is said that the saint is buried.

As Saint James practiced in his life, spreading the Gospel, today “the world needs our witness and the love of God,” Deacon Jablonowski said.

At the end of the day, all received a souvenir — a scallop shell, representative of the symbol used to guide pilgrims on the Camino. Legend says that the martyred body of Saint James, after being thrown overboard, was kept undamaged by scallops.

Seniors from Saint Peter Parish in Merchantville filled a bus for the trip to Ventnor.

“Thank God for the beautiful weather,” said Grace Kulbickas, while her friend, Carla Hughes, called the time a “nice experience.” “We felt the breath of God today, joining with the faith community,” she said.