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Starting my Pilgrim Journey

Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR, STD
Along the Way

 

Fr. Amado L. PicardalMy pilgrim journey has begun–I am on my way to Poland. I am attending the World Youth Day which officially begins on July 26 in Krakow. The CBCP-ECY Delegation left last week for the Days in the Diocese but I could not leave with them since I still have to facilitate the Malaybalay Clergy Retreat in Cebu. I will meet up with my group in Warsaw then take the train to Krakow. I’m very excited to be part of the World Youth Day even if I am no longer young. I am just energized to be among young Catholics all over the world gathering in the hometown of St. John Paul II.

I also look forward to concelebrating in the Mass presided by Pope Francis and hearing the confession of youth pilgrims before that. After the World Youth Day I proceed to St Jean Pied de Port in France and start my 800 km walking pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. This will be the second time I am doing this. The first time was six years ago. I was at a transition of my life. A period of my life was ending which lasted for 16 years in Davao. Now I am going through another transition–discerning the path I am about to take on my life’s journey.

On this pilgrim journey I will be praying especially for my country. There are so many things happening under the administration of the new president Rodrigo Duterte. Some of them give me hope and joy, such as the resumption of the peace process which I believe will lead to a peace agreement with the NDF, the appointment of an anti-mining DENR secretary, the FOI, the appointment of several leftist personalities in the cabinet and Duterte’s positive encounter with Cardinal Vidal and Cardinal Tagle, the mass surrender of drug addicts and pushers.

But there is a dark side to these, which causes me grief and indignation–the extrajudicial killings that is being carried out all over the country with the encouragement of the president and the silence and support of so many Filipinos. After less than a month, almost five hundred have been summarily killed by the police and death squads, majority were suspected drug addicts, pushers and petty thieves, and mostly poor. What I predicted before the elections is now happening and more blood will flow in the streets as promised by the president and his police chief. The most tragic image that I saw was printed in the front page of the Inquirer–a young woman embracing the body of her husband who had just been killed by the death squad. It reminds me of the Pieta. Seeing this haunting image fills me with grief.

I am praying for an end to this madness that is gripping our country. The theme of the World Youth Day is “Blessed are the Merciful for they Shall Obtain Mercy.” This echoes the theme of this Year of Mercy. I pray that the Duterte Government will lead the way in making this nation a nation of mercy as he pursues the peace process, defend the environment and stamp out corruption and criminality. This is what I am praying for as I join the young pilgrims in Krakow and as I walk the Camino de Santiago for thirty days across the Pyrenees and Northern Spain to the Tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostella.

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