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A Journey of the Mind, Heart and Spiritual Selves

By Amanda Fryer

Embarking on a journey beckoned by the mystery and adventure of far away lands will be nine St Columba College students ‘walking’ in the footsteps of the College’s patron saint, Columba, as part of the College’s 2017 Iona Pilgrimage.

From 7 to 22 July, the Year 11 and Year 12 students will travel to the small Isle of Iona, o the western coast of Scotland, on a faith trip of a life time. On this small Isle, known as ‘The cradle of Christianity’ in Scotland, the College’s patron saint commenced his 34-year long mission to bring Christianity to the pagan tribes and it has since become the centre of Gaelic monasticism and a place of spiritual retreat.

Accompanied by three College staff , the students will embark on an educational and spiritual experience where they will gain an understanding of the significant history, important to both the Anglican and Catholic churches, and experience an opportunity to encounter God through prayer and reflection on their own personal and religious journey.

Year 12 Student Jordan Clarke is looking forward to discovering the journey of Saint Columba and what he did as a Christian on the Isle of Iona.

“I’m keen to discover the origins of Saint Columba and get a real sense of the impact he had on Christianity in Europe,” Jordan said.

“For me, this journey will make a path for future pilgrims from the College and our experiences of walking in the shoes of Saint Columba in Scotland will help to inspire students to take this journey when they are in the senior years of school.”

St Columba College, an R-12 co-educational College in Andrews Farm, is a unique Anglican and Catholic school with both churches recognising Saint Columba as a saint. The College was established in 1996 as an ecumenical initiative of the Anglican and Catholic Archbishops of Adelaide and is renown for being committed to its Christian heritage and Anglican and Catholic traditions.

Iona Pilgrimage Coordinator and Deputy Principal of St Columba College, Mr Wayne Gladigau, acknowledges the unique partnership of the two church traditions at the College.

“We are a very unique school in that we were established by the Anglican and Catholic Churches here in Adelaide.” Mr Gladigau said.

“Our young people experience formal religious education lessons throughout their school journey at St Columba College including participation in liturgies, rituals and practices of both faiths, but there is not a lot of understanding where all of this came from.”

As the students embark on their pilgrimage, their journey will be infused with meaning and intention and often a search for answers. They will leave the earthiness of their daily lives and seek to connect with God on a sacred journey to uncover the true self, embracing the practice of pilgrimage while visiting key places relevant to the history of the Anglican and Catholic churches.

“What we are aiming to do is follow Christianity in England from the time of the romans, when there was only one Christian Church, and understand the changes that took place shaped by King Henry VIII,” Mr Gladigau said.

“We are going to trace the thread of the Anglican and Catholic history through London by visiting key places where King Henry’s presence and influence carved and created the Anglican Church from the Church of England.”

The itinerary includes various destinations and activities centred on the history and traditions of the two churches in the United Kingdom and on the life, values and mission of Saint Columba. The pilgrims will visit a number of significant historical sties in London and Edinburgh, such as Canterbury Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and Edinburgh Castle, before sailing across the seas by ferry and resting on the shores of Iona. 

“Going to the very west coast of Scotland to a really small island that’s quite difficult to get to because that’s where Columba actually lived. So we will go to the place where he got o his boat, a Coracle, and walked onto the island; we will walk that shore,” Mr Gladigau said.

“We will go to the place where he set up a monastery and brought Christianity rstly to that island and spread out to Scotland. That’s a really signi cant part because we are the only St Columba school in Adelaide, so to be able to create a link between the man who lived and the school that we are is really important and it’s a fantastic place to go.”

This is the third time the College has organised a pilgrimage for senior students to England and Scotland, with the rst journey launched in 2013. The College is anticipating a planned pilgrimage to take place every two years for students to experience a sacred journey, see where Saint Columba settled in 563AD to build Iona Abbey and spread Christianity, and nd a sense of identity, beauty, truth and sense of God.

“A pilgrimage speaks of giving of self, of your time and it’s a service. Part of a pilgrimage is giving of something so we are very keen to build in acts of service. We are going to do our absolute best to make a connection with a disadvantaged community in London either through an Anglican Church or Catholic Church,” Mr Gladigau said.

“Part of being there is to visit that community and see the work that they do. If we can visit and donate then that’s what we are aiming to do. Our fundraising is principally to support that new element of the Pilgrimage.”

In preparation for the pilgrimage, the pilgrim students and sta have been busy organising fundraising activities and events, including crazy hair and silly socks day, ice-cream stalls, casual clothes day, a bbq breakfast and Quiz Night.

The community and local businesses backed the pilgrimage fundraising activities with an enthusiastic response to support and sponsorship, exhibiting a true connection through engagement.

“All that fundraising is acts of service for the young people involved and that service will continue when we get back from the Pilgrimage,” Mr Gladigau said.

“When the school focuses on our fundraising campaign in winter, these young people will be at the front of it. We want to make a contribution at home, we want to make a contribution in London and we want it to be part of what people understand of our Pilgrimage.” 

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