DUBLIN — Participants in the World Meeting of Families have been invited to walk the “Dublin Camino,” a seven-church “Pilgrim Walk” throughout the city, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Dublin.
The event, which is running from Aug. 18-25, is aimed at making the themes of the World Meeting of Families accessible to everyone, even those not attending the pastoral congress or other large events.
Pilgrims can pick up a free “Pilgrim Walk Passport” at any of the seven churches along the route, each marked with a banner identifying them as an official stop along the way, and they can be visited in any order.
Like those making the ancient Camino de Santiago de Compostela through Spain, pilgrims in Dublin receive a stamp at each of the different churches, and a final seal on the certificate page of their pilgrim passport, marking the completion of the journey.
“Your fully-stamped passport will serve as a life-long reminder of your participation in the IXth World Meeting of Families in Dublin,” said Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin in a letter printed in the passports.
“It will also record your pilgrim journey of prayer and reflection through the themes associated with each church for this event,” he said. An interactive map of the pilgrim walk is available on the official World Meeting of Families mobile app.
At each church, pilgrims are instructed to pray for a specific intention relating to the family, such as grandparents, parents, and children. Volunteers are present at each church to greet pilgrims, stamp passports, and provide information about the history of that particular church. Some of the parishes have items for sale in addition to pamphlets about upcoming events happening at the parish.
Six of the churches on the route are Catholic, but one, St. Michan’s, located on Church Street, is a Church of Ireland parish – part of the Anglican Communion. A nearby Catholic church on Halston Street, also named after St. Michan, is another stop on the pilgrimage.
Rev. Ross Styles, an Anglican minister on hand to welcome pilgrims, explained to CNA that the Anglican parish had been included on the pilgrim route because of its strong ecumenical ties with the Catholic Diocese of Dublin. The building had been a Catholic Church until the time of the Protestant Reformation.
The route was officially opened Saturday, August 18, by Martin walking with the Anglican archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson, between the Anglican and Catholic churches of St. Michan’s.
When Dublin hosted the International Eucharistic Congress in 2012, a Church of Ireland parish was also involved in a similar event.
The inclusion of the Anglican St. Michan’s church is meant to signify the “family” of Christian communities, Styles said, adding that it “reinforces our close ecumenical links.” He said that the theme of St. Michan’s was “fostering the gift of forgiveness among families,” and pilgrims were asked to “pray for the family of Christian Churches,” and “our mutual need for forgiveness.”
Volunteers told CNA that the crowds visiting the churches was “very multicultural” and not limited to local parishioners and residents, though Dubliners have been visiting too, with many taking to social media to praise the city’s hidden gems.
“Just did the #WMOF2018 #Pilgrimwalk of seven churches and I didn’t realize how lovely some of them are….and I’m from Dublin!” tweeted Mary Kirk, a local resident.