Letter from the Chair – Spring 2024

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Letter from the Chair – Spring 2024

by Joe Curro, Board Chair, American Pilgrims on the Camino

Joe Curro with the Canadian Company of Pilgrims in Ottowa.
American Pilgrims Board Chair Joe Curro, left, with Canadian Company of Pilgrims (CCoP) Past President Austin Cooke, CCoP Ottawa Chapter Co-coordinator Anne Ostrom, CCoP Past President Wendy Loly, CCoP Past President Lea Pennock, and CCoP Ottawa Chapter Co-coordinator Nadia Marshy at a reception honoring Loly and Pennock on March 5, 2024, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Photo by a generous pilgrim.

Dear Fellow Pilgrims!

People often ask me what the Camino is like. I tell them it is like falling in love a dozen times a day.

At our Annual Gathering of Pilgrims, I fall in love many dozens of times throughout the weekend as I talk, sing, dance, break bread, and walk with the beautiful, engaging members of our pilgrim family.

The theme of this year’s Gathering, held in March in Hunt, TX, was “Rhythms of the Way: Lighten Your Load.” For me, the Gathering itself constitutes its own rhythm of the way, a reliable, recurring reunion to which so many of us look forward with great anticipation each year.

In terms of lightening the load for others, I drew great inspiration from this year’s attendees, who carry other people’s packs not only on the Camino, but in their daily lives. Over the course of a few days, I spoke with pilgrims who:

  • Help survivors of cancer and of war to embrace lives of dignity and to wrestle with their demons.
  • Mentor and teach young people and organize literacy projects.
  • Lead poverty assistance programs and advance social justice initiatives.
  • Bring veterans to medical appointments and accompany the dying.
  • Heal broken and bruised bodies and minds.
  • Guide seekers in spiritual formation and walk beside fellow religious leaders who are feeling the strain of their calling.
  • Lift up all our spirits by sharing creative gifts and talents.
  • Give voice to pilgrims of every stripe by providing them with the opportunity to share their stories.

Beyond those forms of service, so many Gathering attendees and members can count themselves among the ranks of Camino angels by virtue of their work on behalf of their fellow pilgrims and their volunteer roles with American Pilgrims on the Camino and other organizations at home and abroad.

At this year’s Gathering, we were honored by the presence of pilgrim leaders from six countries, in addition to the United States: Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom. This reminded me once again of our connection to the “global community of pilgrims” referred to in our vision statement.

Joe Curry Spanish Ambassador to Spain in Canada.
American Pilgrims Board Chair Joe Curro, left, with H.E. Alfredo Martínez Serrano, on March 5, 2024, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Photo by a generous pilgrim.

On my way to Texas for the Gathering, I took a detour to Ottawa. At the invitation of His Excellency Alfredo Martínez Serrano, Ambassador of Spain to Canada, I represented American Pilgrims on the Camino at a ceremony and reception honoring Canadian Company of Pilgrims Past Presidents Wendy Loly and Lea Pennock. The Canadian Company of Pilgrims has been a good friend and partner to us throughout the years. They helped us to establish our first local chapters, and our cooperation continues as we plan next year’s International Gathering in Vancouver.

Members of the board recently gave a briefing to Leigh Brennan on her Camino Cafe podcast. During this interview, my colleague Tom Coleman said, “The world needs more Camino.”

I couldn’t agree more.

¡Buen Camino!


Dan Mullen Leigh Brennen Joe Curro, at the gathering.
Podcasters Dan Mullins and Leigh Brennan with American Pilgrims Board Chair Joe Curro on March 7, 2024, at the Annual Gathering of Pilgrims held at Mo-Ranch in Hunt, TX. Photo by a generous pilgrim.

Your MEMBERSHIP in American Pilgrims on the Camino makes it possible for everyone to make the pilgrimage that is best for them. Thanks, as always, for your support and if you aren’t already a member, you can become one here.

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