The Camino de Santiago.

You’ve likely heard of the fabled pilgrimage — an inspiration to Catholics and non-Catholics alike for over 1000 years. But did you know that Orange County has its own, annual mini-Camino?

When Father Thomas Naval was first assigned to Santiago de Compostela Catholic Church (the one in Lake Forest – not Spain!) he made the time to visit the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain.

“We were able to make a very short Camino from Monte de Gozo to the Cathedral and by God’s grace, were able to experience the blessing with the butofomeiro the huge incense thurible,” said Fr. Thomas. That short pilgrimage – just seven kilometers, “was an eye opener for me that we can replicate this inspirational experience for our parishioners and community in Orange County, California.”

The 6th Annual Camino de Santiago (OC Route!) will be held on Saturday, July 23 in Lake Forest. The first walkers can begin as early as 5 a.m., though the start time is staggered until 10 a.m. The Camino begins and ends at Santiago de Compostela Church, 21682 Lake Forest Drive. From here, bus transport will be available to two walking route options: “Our Lady of the Pillar Way” begins at Lake Forest Sports Park which is approximately 4.1 miles. The “St. James Way” route option begins at Portola Hills at the El Toro Rd. entrance and is approximately 7 miles.

Both routes include stations for inspirational, guided reflection. The theme this year is “We will rise again” and reflections recognize the power of God in our lives that overcome the hurt and pain that we receive. Regardless of the burdens in our lives, Christ’s Resurrection conquers all. A prayerful option is also available within the church campus.

But beware: Sometimes a short pilgrimage can inspire something much, much greater! This year Fr. Thomas committed to a full, 500-mile Camino, from Lisbon, Portugal (where our Lady of Fatima is) to Santiago de Compostela Church in Spain.

He notes that, “while our parish Camino gives a taste of what it feels to walk intentionally like the Camino in Spain, it is a very different experience!”

“The Camino in Portugal and Spain is done in a span of days and weeks”, and making matters simpler,” added Fr. Thomas. “Our Camino in OC has set stations where the pilgrims are invited to enter in reflection, prayer and meaningful activity guided by Scripture passages that are relevant to our current challenges and situations.”

The OC Camino is much more than just a walk. Mass, officiated by Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Freyer and con-celebrated by Fr. Thomas Naval, follows the walk at 11:30 a.m., and the celebration concludes with a pilgrim-worthy lunch and entertainment at 12:30 p.m….

The above comes from a July 6 story in OC Catholic.