The United Diocese of Down And Dromore


Ballymacarrett rector will join new Camino chaplaincy

Ballymacarrett rector will join new Camino chaplaincy

Wednesday 16 May 2018

The rector of Ballymacarrett, the Revd John Cunningham, will spend 2 weeks in September serving as part of a new chaplaincy service for pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago.

John and his wife Linda have walked the full 500 miles of the Camino twice. They frequently revisit sections in France and Spain and are currently completing another 200 mile journey along the route.  

In recent years the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage has become something of a phenomenon, with pilgrim numbers rising from the tens of thousands at the turn of the century to the hundreds of thousands today.

“Pilgrims walk “The Way” for as many reasons as there are pilgrims – religious, spiritual, to escape from problems, a good long walk, as a bucket list project – you name it and they walk it,” says John, “but each reason is valid for that person.”

He continues: “There are many routes starting from many varied places, but all of them end in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and it is this ending which has caused problems for many. There is a Mass for Roman Catholic pilgrims to which everyone is made very welcome and a chaplaincy for those Roman Catholic pilgrims who may have spiritual or emotional problems. There is, however, no communion or chaplaincy for non–Roman Catholics. Many people believe that the Camino is a Roman Catholic pilgrimage, but as it was instituted long before the Reformation it is indeed a Christian pilgrimage.”

Now, with so many Anglicans and Episcopalians walking the route, the Diocese of Europe has responded with the establishment of a chaplaincy that began to function in early May.

John says: “It’s very early days and the steps taken are very tentative, but over the next two months three Church of England clergy will be in situ from 13 May–27 June. From 2–16 September I will be on duty, to be followed by two Church of England clergy until 23 October.”

The daily schedule is as follows:

Parador Hotel (right next to the Cathedral)

Sunday at 10.00: Eucharist

Egeria House

Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday from 15.00 – 18.00: Cup of tea and a chat
17.00: Prayer Service

Wednesday from 15.00 – 18.00: Cup of tea and a chat
17.00: Informal Eucharist and simple meal.

If numbers were sufficient, Revd John Cunningham would be happy to hold an information night for those with questions about the Camino. To express interest, please email John on

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