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Camino of St Joseph draws nearly five hundred

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Pilgrims walk through the streets of the city at the beginning of the overnight pilgrimage. Photos: Patrick J Lee
Pilgrims walk through the streets of the city at the beginning of the overnight pilgrimage. Photos: Patrick J Lee

They set off as strangers but arrived as brothers.

More than 450 men hit the streets of Sydney for the Camino of St Joseph 2023 last weekend, an overnight pilgrimage in honour of the patron saint of fathers.

The 12km walk has become one of the leading events for Catholic men in Australia, growing from just 50 in 2021 to 480 this year.

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Coming from all walks of life and as far afield as Melbourne, Newcastle and Canberra, the pilgrims visited nine parishes over 12 hours, sacrificing a night’s sleep for Our Lord.

Aged between 18 and 80, the pilgrims, some in wheelchairs, came together to quench their spiritual hunger and be public witnesses of their faith.

More than 800 men, including those unable to do the walk, began their journey at St Mary’s Cathedral at 8pm on Friday night for adoration, confession and Mass celebrated by Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Richard Umbers.

They set off to walk through the night, arriving at St Joseph’s Enfield at around 6am the following morning for Mass and a hot BBQ breakfast.

Along the way they stopped at St Benedict’s Broadway, St Joseph’s Camperdown, St Brendan’s Annandale, St Fiacre Leichhardt, St Thomas of Canterbury Lewisham, St Brigid’s Marrickville, and St Paul of the Cross Dulwich Hill, meeting priests for reflections and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

Fr Emmanuel Seo from St Michael’s Meadowbank and Fr John Nguyen from St Fiacre Leichhardt accompanied the men and heard confessions along the way.

Rain was forecast but the heavens didn’t open until the brave souls completed their pilgrimage.

Maximus Men’s Ministry Network leader Ivica Kovac said it was an amazing and blessed experience, giving men the opportunity to grow in faith and brotherhood.

He said there’s a real spiritual hunger among men of all ages and the camino provides an avenue to fulfill their yearning.

Hundreds of men kneel before the Blessed Sacrament at St Benedict's church in Broadway during an overnight pilgrimage from 28-29 April 2023.
Hundreds of men kneel before the Blessed Sacrament at St Benedict’s church in Broadway during an overnight pilgrimage from 28-29 April 2023.

“St Joseph was the first man who walked overnight many miles in adoration, protecting Our Lord in the womb of Our Lady, without GPS or accommodation but trusting in God’s providence,” he said.

“In our small way, through the intercession of St Joseph the Worker we imitated St Joseph through the streets of Sydney.

“Our city is much richer for the small sacrifice of these men by offering up a night’s sleep.”

Pilgrim Bruce Missen, parishioner of St Luke’s Revesby, said it was the “most spiritually rewarding things he’s ever done.”

“It was absolutely amazing, I have done all three and it just gets better and better, it really is such a fulfilling spiritual journey,” he said.

“It’s wonderful to see our numbers growing which I think is a testament that Christ is alive in every one of us.

“We are the ones responsible for setting an example for our wives and children. Statistics show that if dad goes to church, the kids will go.

“The men come from different walks of life and have different purposes for doing it, and to show publicly they are willing to put sleep aside and be out in the cold to come closer to God is an inspiration.

Fr Emmanuel Seo said the men’s incredible hunger for God, spiritual solidarity, enthusiasm, and camaraderie exceeded his expectations.

“For our humble offering of a single night’s sleep, Christ rewarded us with his spiritual presence, burning our hearts with zeal like the disciples on the road to Emmaus,” he said.

“I encourage everyone to join and to experience the inspiring potential and power of faith in action and hope many priests and bishops will also participate in the walk—it is more than worth the sacrifice.”

To find out more www.sydneycatholic.org/maximus

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