Saint John's Magazine Winter/Spring 2018

Page 12



By Jessie Bazan ’17 SOT

“Like the disciples, we prayed that Christ would join us on the walk and help us to each find meaning in our pilgrimage.”

Chris Morgan examined the heat rash creeping across his exhausted extremities.

together on their course-required Kindles, then strap on the backpacks, lace up the hiking boots and walk.

“My feet ache like hell,” he said to his journal.

And walk some more.

Between the bug bites and swollen limbs, it was a rough day of class for the graduate student-turned-instructor.

Some people walk faster than others, so the group would reconvene in the afternoon at the next hostel. Naps were highly recommended before dinner and individual journaling time.

But to be fair, walking 19 miles uphill along the border of Spain and France is not your average assignment. Morgan, SJU ’11, SOT ’17, led nine Bennies and Johnnies across the Camino de Santiago last summer — six days after graduating with his Masters of Divinity degree. Morgan spent more than a year developing the “Christian Spirituality” course through the Department of Theology as part of his field education work. Before jetting off, students discussed the book Backpacking with the Saints and took a few practice hikes in the Arboretum to prepare for the four-week, 420-mile trek. “Embodied spirituality is important to me,” Morgan said. “I felt called to lead a group on the Camino because the pilgrim path invited us to explore the physical and spiritual aspects of our life journeys.” The group followed a similar pattern most days on the Camino: Wake up before dawn and pray Morning Prayer


The course centered on “intentional conversations” that Morgan facilitated with each student at various points during the pilgrimage. He used the story of the Road to Emmaus from John’s Gospel to frame the conversations. Walking together, Morgan would read a section of Scripture and then ask the student a handful of questions. “A question that kept coming up for people was, ‘Why am I on pilgrimage?’” Morgan recalled. “The conversations were meant to be reflective and motivational. “Like the disciples, we prayed that Christ would join us on the walk and help us to each find meaning in our pilgrimage.” After seven years in Collegeville, Morgan steeped himself into the opening line of the Rule of Benedict. He listened — a lot.