Fr. Filkins to take pilgrimage

Published 7:00 am Thursday, April 14, 2016

IN TRAINING: Fr. Jonathan Filkins completes a circuit at Crosby Commons. He is in training for his upcoming pilgrimage.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

IN TRAINING: Fr. Jonathan Filkins completes a circuit at Crosby Commons. He is in training for his upcoming pilgrimage.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

On April 25, Father Jonathan Filkins, rector at Saint Barnabas Anglican Church in Picayune, will depart the United States to participate in one of the three great pilgrimages known to the Christian world.
The pilgrimages are Jerusalem, Rome and Camino, he said.
Filkins will be walking the 500-mile Camino De Santiago, which begins in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a small town in France. He will cross the Pyrenees Mountains and end his spiritual journey in Santiago, Spain.
The Camino de Santiago has been walked by the faithful for more than 1,100 years and is dotted with numerous religious sites, Filkins said. Santiago is Spanish for St. James and Camino is Spanish for the way, he added.
“As a pilgrim, you carry a passport, which is frequently stamped to show the towns you have been through,” Filkins said. “At the end of the pilgrimage you receive a certificate from the Cathedral, showing you have completed the journey.”
Filkins said his journey is a personal one and being completed for religious reasons. It is also a test of the body, mind and soul.
Filkins has allotted himself 41 days to complete the pilgrimage, which means he will walk about 12 to 15 miles per day. He will be walking alone, which is encouraged.
“The reason they do it alone is because if you are taking family and friends with you, then it becomes a bit of a race,” he said. “Each person’s journey is for different reasons. They can refocus their lives, have a spiritual awakening or just do it for the physical exercise.”
Along the way, Filkins said he will encounter many small villages, towns and cities, where he will find lodging, meals and supplies. He said is looking forward to meeting new people from around the world.
Only about six percent of the pilgrims are from the United States, the rest hail from Spain, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, he said.
Filkins has spent the past six months preparing for his upcoming journey. His training includes circuits of walking, purchasing equipment and losing weight.
A circuit for Filkins is about three and a half miles. At the beginning of his training, he completed about three to four each week. Now, he trains almost every day on the streets of Picayune.
Filkins said it’s also a tradition to carry a small pebble along the way, which symbolizes a burden that a person would like to put behind them.
About 300 miles into the pilgrimage, pebbles are placed beneath the cross at Cruz de Ferro, the highest point in Camino.
“In doing so, this represents the person eliminating their burden,” Filkins said. “I’ll be carrying several with me. Anyone who needs me to carry a small pebble for them, I’m carrying it.”
During his absence, Fr. David Munn will be filling in at Saint Barnabas.
Filkins said he would like to thank local benefactors who have helped support this pilgrimage.
“I don’t think you’re ever not learning,” Filkins said. “Having attended retreats before, I find them refreshing. It’s a grand opportunity to reflect and refresh in the time I’ll be spending there.”

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