¡Buen Camino!

Dear Friends,
It has taken three tries and nine years, but as of July 2012, I have finally walked the entire Way of Compostela from my former home in Leuven/Louvain, Belgium, to Santiago de Composela!
My first pilgrimage experience from the French frontier with Spain to Santiago itself took place in 2003. You can read the details of this first walk along the famous Camino across Spain in my book, To The Field of Stars: A Pilgrim's Journey to Santiago de Compostela, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (2008). (You can order it from the publisher, from Amazon.com, or from your local bookseller).
In the summer and early fall of 2007, I walked from Belgium most of the way across France, with the hope of at least making it to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port near the Spanish border, where I began the first pilgrimage. I didn't quite make it. A bad case of plantar fasciitis took me down in the Bordeaux village of Sainte-Ferme. I continued on to Santiago by train and bus, but the "defeat of my feet" and those last 175 miles or so that were left undone, gnawed at me over the ensuing five years. Happily, I was finally able to wrap up this grand pilgrimage with a third walk from Sainte-Ferme to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port this past summer (2012). It was a joy to have completed all 2,370 kilometers between Leuven and Santiago.
My adventures and misadventures, my thoughts and prayers of both the 2007 and 2012 pilgrimages have been shared in this blog. I will leave the blog and its archives open for some time to come; if you want to read bits and pieces of it, feel free, but remember that the beginning is at the bottom and the end is at the top.
My contact e-mail remains the same: kacodd@gmail.com; I am always happy to receive mail!
As the pilgrims in Spain greet one another, so I greet you, my reader: "Buen Camino!"
And as the people of France greet their pilgrims along the "Chemin", I also wish to you: "Courage!"

Grace and peace to you all!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Leuven Days

Before heading south to Bordeaux on Friday for the actual beginning of my walk, I have the luxury of spending a few days back in the town that I consider my second home, Leuven (Louvain), Belgium. It was here that I first studied theology in preparation for my life as a priest and here that I worked, first as Vice-Rector, then as Rector of my seminary, The American College, and here where I began the second part of my pilgrimage from Leuven to Compostela almost exactly five years ago. It is good to be back and I am so grateful for the warm welcome of my hosts, Gene and Caroline Foley, and to all who have greeted me and feted me over the last few days.
Our reunion of the students of The American College begins later today and it will be great to see everyone again.
Leuven has been a stop on the Low Lands pilgrim route for many centuries and that important role is still manifest in the Sint-Jakob church down the street and a newly placed plaque set in the cobblestones just outside its main portal; it reminds us that it is 2,370 kms to Santiago from here. I have walked all but 200 of those, but I hope to finally finish then next week, God willing!
(I'll try to post a picture or two…