This pandemic has impacted life in so many ways for countless individuals. For those who identify as pilgrims—regardless of whether or not one has walked a single step across Spain—the images of an empty Praza do Obradoiro and stories of a Camino without pilgrims have made our safe-at-home strategies feel all the more confining. For many, 2020 was to be the year:
- A pilgrim’s feet were finally going to fall upon the path that has led so many to Compostela.
- A return to a place where clarity of purpose and deep meaning were discovered.
- A pilgrimage was to be made—in gratitude for some blessing of life, in memory of dear loved one, or in search of something that is profound yet not quite utterable.
- A pilgrim was making their way to Spain, not to walk, but to provide hospitality to a new wave of seekers making their way to City of St. James.
Now those identifying with one of these groups are beginning to mourn that much of the evidence points to a 2020 pilgrimage season that is either severely truncated or altogether cancelled. Questions abound—will employers allow you to take that long an amount of time off, again? Will family juggle calendars and expectations? Will the airlines, trains, or buses give you back all your hard-earned and patiently saved dollars?
And beyond that, there’s questions to which we do not yet know the answers:
- When will the Camino reopen?
- How will the Camino need to change—both in the short-term and the long-term to accomodate for our new reality?
- How will the infrastructure of the Camino survive while at rest—especially those important places that depend on and operate with the seasonal donations of pilgrims?
It is on this last piece that I wish to focus. The Camino has given so much to so many, especially in the modern renewed interest in the Way of St. James. It is important in this season to remind each other that, yes, the Camino will be there; ever-ready to receive those seeking to find their way under the Field of Stars.
Right now, though, the Camino needs us to give as we have received. While there is no one place to give and there are many worthy Camino-related organizations and businesses, I have been moved to lift up those organizations that depend solely upon the donations received from each day’s wave of pilgrims making their way through the city, town, or village in which they find themselves. I would hope that if this effort focused on philanthropy, a difference could be made with those who have no other sources of revenue.
The below is not an exhaustive list—and intentionally so. These are just four that operate off of the donations made by pilgrims:
- The Marist Fathers in Sahagun (http://www.alberguesensahagun.es/en/). In addition to their work in hospitality along the Camino, the brothers rely upon donations to take care of their own basic needs. They also work with feeding the poor via Caritas, the Catholic Charities of Spain. You can support their work by giving to Peaceable Projects and designating your gift when you give through PayPal (https://www.peaceableprojects.org/waystohelp)
- Albergue de Peregrinos Emaus in Burgos (https://www.facebook.com/albergueemaus). The is a former covenant run by a French lady who is part of a Catholic lay order. You can give via the Albergue’s gofundme account here: (https://www.gofundme.com/f/Albergue-de-Peregrinos-Emaus)
- Albergue Parroquial in Tosantos. Affiliated with the Franciscan order, this is a truly unique place and is special to many. They have spent down their resources over the winter replacing their floors. Again, You can support their work by giving to Peaceable Projects and designating your gift when you give through PayPal (https://www.peaceableprojects.org/waystohelp).
- The Albergue Parroquial in Fuenterroble de Salvatierra along the Via de la Plata—Padre Blas runs this place of hospitality, not just for pilgrims but any in need. There’s a gofundme made available here: (https://www.gofundme.com/f/ayuda-al-albergue-del-padre-blas)
Beyond these three, here’s four other Albergues or Camino related operations that provide so much to many and could use your help:
- Egeria House (http://egeria.house). Many an English-speaking pilgrim has begun the work of the pilgrimage that begins once we reach Santiago de Compostela through the work of Sybille Yates (https://www.paypal.me/EgeriaHouseSantiago)
- The Stone Boat (https://www.thestoneboat.com), though it is a private albergue in Rabanal del Camino, the owner is a Floridian who has hosted and helped countless. The big need for her is that she needs a vehicle. https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-stone-boat
- Pilgrim House: an evangelical hospitality center that, though not an albergue, provides hospitality to many. You can donate through their web page: https://pilgrimhousesantiago.com/support
- American Pilgrims on the Camino: through its Grants program, American Pilgrims has continued to support albergues in small towns along multiple Camino routes. They will continue to help as many of these as possible (https://americanpilgrims.org/grants/).
If you would like a further list, Ivar Rekve’s The Camino de Santiago Forum has a list which can be found here:[https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/categories/help-a-camino-business-in-these-covid-19-times.210/]. Sybille at her Egeria House page is keeping in a list, too [http://egeria.house/help-for-camino-people/].
Many thanks to those who have helped compile this list. I am grateful.