Pilgrimage to Spain

January 7, 2019
Sherri Dietrich, UTO Board President

For some time now, the United Thank Offering Board has wanted to offer a trip to visit UTO Grant sites and participate in a pilgrimage. To celebrate 150 years of Spain’s participation in the Anglican Communion and UTO’s contribution to its survival and growth, the UTO Board voted at our fall meeting to offer a pilgrimage trip to Spain to visit several UTO Grant sites, which can be experienced either by walking part of the Camino de Santiago or by traveling by vehicle. Both groups will begin together in Madrid and end together in Santiago. To learn more about the pilgrimage or to sign up, please visit https://unitedthankoffering.com/camino.

In conjunction with the pilgrimage, we plan to issue a challenge grant to match up to $60,000 for the purchase of a building to provide church services and housing for non-Catholic pilgrims who reach Santiago — more on that to come later in the year.

There is currently great interest in ancient pilgrimage ways, and the Camino is one of the oldest. The UTO Board believes that combining the Camino with meditation on thanksgiving as a way of life will be exciting and inspiring to many Episcopalians. Bishop Carlos López-Lozano of the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain is eager to welcome us all and show us the Church’s work and tell us its stories. The UTO staff has begun to put together exciting travel plans with an excellent travel agent in Spain. Most Episcopalians are unaware of the struggles the Spanish Reformed Church has faced and will be amazed to learn about its history and its accomplishments, strengthening this bond between our Churches as we walk The Way together.

Although non-Catholic pilgrims on the Camino currently can stay in hostels, they cannot participate in the Eucharist at the cathedral in Santiago, which ends the pilgrimage on a sad note rather than culminating the spiritual journey by celebrating the Eucharist together. Bishop Lozano wants to purchase and renovate a building in Santiago to serve as a hostel for non-Catholic pilgrims and provide space for worship together, and UTO hopes to support this effort. In 2015, UTO funded a grant to open the first Anglican presence on the Camino in Pontevedra, Spain, just outside of Santiago, which served as a pilot and as a catalyst for deeper conversations between the UTO Board and the staff of the Reformed Church of Spain. We look forward to continuing our relationship with them through this pilgrimage and creation of the hostel in Santiago. We hope many of you will take advantage of this unique opportunity to walk the Camino, visit inspiring UTO Grant sites in beautiful towns and cities, and see what your thankful gifts in Blue Boxes have enabled in Spain.