A Pilgrimage in Honor of Friends
|Tom Dujenski prepares for the journey of a lifetime.|
I grew up in Medina, NY with Paul McPherson, whom I have known all my life and is a dear friend of mine. I was deeply saddened when I heard the news of his wife's cancer diagnosis in April of 2015. I wanted to find a way to honor two wonderful people who are embarking on this journey of battling cancer.
On March 30th, 2016, I will be leaving for Madrid, Spain to embark on a 500 mile journey along the el Camino de Santiago route, to raise money for the Richard Knights-Sue Kaderli Memorial Fund in honor of Paul & Elaine McPherson's battle against cancer. It will take about 3 days to get to the starting point of the route, at the base of the Pyrenees mountains. I should begin my hike along the route on April 3rd or 4th and complete it in approximately 35-40 days. Once my hike is complete I will be returning to Madrid to meet my wife, where we will then travel to Lourdes France to obtain holy water to bring to Elaine & Paul.
Any donations raised should be directly donated to the Richard Knights-Sue Kaderli Memorial Fund via the donation page on their website (http://knightskaderli.blogspot.com/p/donate.html?m=1). This is an organization in Medina, NY that was founded by two families in memory of their loved ones (Richard & Susan) who battled, and lost their lives to cancer. All money raised, through fundraising events and various contributions made by individuals, organizations and memorials, go to assisting families in the Orleans County area who are dealing with cancer. I thought this would be the perfect organization to donate any and all funds raised, to honor Elaine & Paul, as they have long been supporters of the Knights-Kaderli Fund and participate in their annual walk/run event held every October.
Pilgrims walk the Camino for various reasons. Some to seek penance, others enlightenment, and still others for a sense of adventure, yet all progress toward the Cathedral in Santiago where it is believed the remains of the apostle St. James are held. Most pilgrims choose to carry a scallop shell with them to symbolize their journey in honor of St. James. According to legend, scallop shells are said the have covered St. James’ body after it was found on the shores of the Galician coast. Another, perhaps more useful symbol is a walking stick to aid a weary pilgrim on his or her journey. Most pilgrims also carry a document called the credencial, purchased for a few euros from a Spanish tourist agency, a church on the route or from their church back home. The credencial is a pass which gives access to inexpensive, sometimes free, overnight accommodation in refugios along the trail. Also known as the "pilgrim's passport", the credencial is stamped with the official St. James stamp of each town or refugio at which the pilgrim has stayed. It provides walking pilgrims with a record of where they ate or slept, but also serves as proof to the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago that the journey is accomplished according to an official route. The credencial is available at refugios, tourist offices, some local parish houses, and outside Spain, through the national St. James organisation of that country. The stamped credencial is also necessary if the pilgrim wants to obtain a compostela, a certificate of completion of the pilgrimage.