Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Camino Walking Retreats 2017

Camino Walking Retreats 2017

The Camino Chaplaincy invites you to join a spiritual retreat
whilst walking the Camino. There are two retreats
which will be led by Fr Gerard Postlethwaite,
 recently appointed Director of the Camino Chaplaincy.
The retreats will include joining with other pilgrims in the group
for morning prayer and evening Mass each day,
 various talks and meditations and an evening meal together

The first walking retreat: from O Cebreiro on the Camino Francés (155 kms).
15 – 27 June 2017, including final two nights in Santiago
Cost: 650€ per person in a double/twin room 800€ per person in a single room

The second walking retreat: from Barcelos on the Camino Portugués (186.5 kms)
12 – 23 September 2017, including final two nights in Santiago
Cost: 780€ per person in double/twin room ‖ 960€ per person in a single room

The price includes:
  •                      Accommodation in good quality hotels and hostels
  •                      Breakfast and dinner
  •                      Daily luggage transfer to next hotel
  •                      Transport from Santiago airport to Cebreiro and Porto airport to Barcelos

For further information and to register your interest in one of the retreats,
email the Camino Chaplaincy:

Fr Gerard Postlethwaite

Gerard Postlethwaite was born in Warrington, Cheshire and joined the Benedictine Abbey at Ampleforth, where he was given the name Basil. He was educated in Manchester and Oxford and was ordained priest in 1983. In over 30 years of priestly ministry Fr Gerard has worked in Scotland, El Salvador and England. He walked the Camino Francés, from Le Puy en Velay, in 2013 and has walked five other Caminos since then. About this exciting new initiative of
the Camino Chaplaincy, he says:

The Camino journey is deeply personal to everyone who makes it, but there is also a value in receiving some direction. Inspired by spirituality of Saint Ignatius and the poems of TS Eliot, I very much look forward to leading these two walking retreats in 2017. I hope that, together, we can take our experience of the Camino to a deeper level”.  Fr Gerard

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

2016 is in full swing!

Chaplaincy in full swing!
Pilgrims after mass with Fr Stephen 

“I haven’t been to Mass since I was a little boy” said the pilgrim. “ When I was about half way along the Camino Frances I was settling down in the albergue in Terradillos de los Templarios with  my friends when a priest came in. He didn’t actually look like a priest but he introduced himself and said there was a Pilgrims’ Mass in the local church . There wasn’t much else to do so we went along. There were people from the USA, France, Spain, the Ukraine, Belgium, Italy and the UK. And me, the Irishman! The priest spoke in English and Spanish and welcomed the French  and Italian in their own languages. After that we all introduced ourselves and said where we came from and where we had started walking. Language didn’t seem to matter and we all understood each other. We also seemed to understand what the priest was saying, talking about peace that begins in our own hearts and if it does it can spread throughout the world. When he invited us to hold hands and say the Our Father in our own language then embrace each other in a sign of peace many people were crying with the beauty of it.
That evening they said that when I got to Santiago there would be a mass in English in the Cathedral. So here I am! Something is bringing me back and back.”

Meeting pilgrims in O Cebreiro
We are now over halfway through the pilgrim season and Santiago is busy. Each year around 12% more pilgrims arrive than the previous year – and 2016 is no exception! What is different is the level of support the Chaplaincy has received from the many priests and pastoral workers who have offered to serve. Already Frs Pat Brophy, Dominic O’Hara and Stephen Pritchard have been ministering in Moratinos and Terrradillos de los Templarios and Fr Ken Lavarone has been developing the Chaplaincy in O Cebreiro in collaboration with the Franciscans there.

In Santiago daily mass has been provided since the beginning of May by Fr Joe Coghlan and he has been assisted by Pastoral Workers, Alan, Robin, John, Annette and Richard. Thanks to all of them and also to Frs Owen and Tony who stand in for Fr Joe when he needs a break.

For those working in the Chaplaincy every day brings something different. Out in Moratinos Fr Pat took to using an electric bike to cycle the route between the villages to meet pilgrims whilst in Cebriero Fr Ken has been walking down the hill to meet the pilgrims coming up!

Fluent Irish speaker Fr Joe
One unique even this year was the arrival of a group of pilgrims from Ireland who had rowed a traditionally built currach named the Naomhoig Na Tinteall the way from Ireland. They did this over two years and they were overjoyed to arrive in Galicia. Fr Joe, the chaplain in Santiago, said a thanksgiving Mass for them in the Irish language and there were enthusiastic celebrations which followed. You can imagine!

We are now preparing for the arrival of more priests and a visit from Bishop Ralph at the end of the month. More news later!


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Camino Chaplaincy 2016

Welcome - Camino Chaplaincy 2016
This year Fr Joe Coghlan, the Director of the Camino Chaplaincy returns to Santiago as Chaplain for 6 months. Helping in Santiago and on the Camino Outreach Programme we welcome:
Frs Pat Brophy,  s.m, Dominc O’Hara, Stephen Pritchard, Ken Laverone OFM, John Jhul  OFM Cap, John Larsen s.m, Alan Neville MSC, Gerard Postlethwaite, Tony O’Riordon SJ, Eoin Whooley, Juan Carlos. Chaplaincy Assistants: Alan Pearce,  John Piggott, Robin Piggott, Annette Argall, Richard Mallory, Pauline Rosseau, Morrell Rouseau, Moira Selvage.

Seal of approval
We are delighted to have the blessing and support of Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster and President of the Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales. The Cardinal hopes to visit Santiago with Bishop Ralph to see our work at first hand.
We are also grateful for the enthusiastic support of the Provincial Council of the Franciscan Order and the Bishop of Lugo for the Camino Chaplaincy Outreach programme in O Cebreiro and in Moratinos and Terredillo de los Templarios.         
Bishop Ralph, President of the Chaplaincy with Cardinal Nichols
New season begins

By the end of April the Chaplain Fr Joe Coghlan will arrive and on Monday 2 May 2016 the 4th year of the Camino Chaplaincy begins in Santiago. There will be daily mass in English in the Cathedral at 10.30am in the same place as previous years – the Chapel of Nuestra Señora  de la Soledad.

This year there will also be SUNDAY MASS in English in the Chapel at 9am.

These will continue until 14 October 2016.    

Fr Joe will be available for confessions or simply a chat before and after the morning masses and also in the evening in the Cathedral.

Chaplaincy assistants, who like Fr Joe are also volunteers, will open the Chapel for prayer and reflection at 9am and will be available to welcome and chat with visitors.
Pilgrims arrive in O Cebreiro
Camino Chaplaincy Outreach
This year from June – September the Chaplaincy will also welcome pilgrims in O Cebriero and in Moratinos/ Terradillos de los Templarios. Priests who have volunteered to help the Chaplaincy will spend some of each day on the Camino meeting and greeting pilgrims and in the evening there will be an international Pilgrims’ Mass. Most of the priests speak Spanish as well as English. Everyone is welcome.
We will announce the exact times of services before the programme starts and we will put posters up in local albergues, hostals and restaurants etc.

O Cebreiro – Diocese of Lugo

Church of Saint Peter - Terradillos de los Templarios
The Chaplaincy is delighted to be working in close collaboration with the Franciscan Order who have two priests already in the parish in O Cebreiro. However they are also responsible for 13 other parishes!

Moratinos/Terradillo de los Templarios – Diocese of Palencia

Last year piloted providing our ministry in Moratinos and the neighbouring pueblo of Terradillo de los Templarios.  These villages are situated  half way along the Camino Francés . This year Chaplaincy priests will be there for a longer period and will open the churches to passing pilgrims and provide evening mass.

When the prayers come marching in

Prayer is at the heart of the Camino Chaplaincy. Wherever we are in Santiago or out on the Camino we meet to pray with pilgrims. We also encourage pilgrims to write down their prayer petitions and leave them with us. These are prayed for every day during the season and beyond.

Earlier this year we invited people who will not be going on pilgrimage to email their petitions to us. A considerable number have arrived and every day more petitions join them.  Please circulate this information to your contacts.   

Email your petitions to

Friday, 15 April 2016

Mass in English in the Cathedral of Santiago 2016

Cathedral of Santiago

Mass in English

Monday to Saturday

~ Sundays at 9am

In the Chapel of Nuestra Señora de Soledad

From 2 May – 15 October 2016


Thursday, 17 March 2016

Send your prayers to Santiago

Not coming to Santiago this year?

"Pray for one another" James 5:16

Every year hundreds of thousands of pilgrims make their way to Santiago. During their journey they pray about many different things and often they are asked by other people to pray for them on their pilgrimage.  

At the Camino Chaplaincy Mass in the Cathedral of Santiago pilgrims are invited to write down any special prayers or petitions they may have. They do so in considerable amounts and every year over 10,000 such prayers are left by pilgrims. They are prayed for every day from May - October.

If you are not coming to Santiago this year but you would like your prayer intention to be prayed for every day by other pilgrims please send them to us by email. Whatever you write is completely confidential and your email will be deleted when your prayer request is received.

Simply email your prayer request to: 


Monday, 30 November 2015

Priests wanted for 2016

"Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you" Luke 6:38

Opportunity for Priests to put something back into the Camino

Many pilgrims to Santiago offer to volunteer as a way of putting something back into the Camino. They can serve as hospitaleros, volunteers in pilgrim offices or in their local associations. Priests can contribute to the Camino in a unique way by offering a ministry to pilgrims.      


The Camino Chaplaincy started in 2013 and for 6 months each year from May – October we provide a place of welcome and reflection for English speaking pilgrims in the Cathedral of Santiago. Daily Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation are provided as well as an opportunity for coffee after Mass. In the evenings a short Service of Reflection is also provided.

In 2015 Fr Joe Coghlan of the Diocese of Cork was appointed Director of Ministry and he served as Chaplain in Santiago for the entire season. Fr Joe will return to Santiago from May - October 2016.

Bishop Ralph Heskett of the Diocese of Hallam in England, who also regularly serves as a Chaplain, is the President of the Camino Chaplaincy.

During 2015 7000 pilgrims  attended services provided by the Chaplaincy however many said that they were disappointed that often Mass was not available on the Camino let alone in English. Many churches in rural Spain are closed due to the shortage of priests and often parish priests have to serve many parishes.

Also a number of priests who have made the pilgrimage have written to us offering to help as a way of putting something back into the Camino. 

Therefore last year we decided to operate a pilot in a community along the Camino where daily Mass was no longer available for pilgrims or the local community. This was very successful. (Read more here). 

Accommodation and finance

Accommodation is provided for priests serving in the Chaplaincy Outreach Programme. Normally priests are expected to cover all other expenses. However we do not want lack of funds to be a barrier to participating in this programme and please let us know if you need assistance.


The Archbishop of Santiago and local Bishops have been very supportive of the Chaplaincy’s activities and plans. We wish to develop two centres of ministry for 2016 in Moratinos and Sarria. This is dependent on the number of priests who apply and their availability. If because of scheduling we cannot accommodate a priest we will try to find a placement which suits in another location.

Camino Chaplaincy Outreach Programme 2016

We are seeking priests to work with us in two locations initially along the Camino Francés.

Sarria is a town 120 kms from Santiago and pilgrims starting there qualify for the Compostela. Because of this 50% of all pilgrims who arrive in Santiago start their Camino in Sarria.
We are very keen to develop a Ministry to English speaking pilgrims in Sarria where we wish to provide a Daily Mass with a Pilgrims’ Blessing for all of those continuing their pilgrimage through the town and for those who are starting out. Five days later these same pilgrims will be welcomed by us in Santiago.
This is a new ministry full of potential and we have been encouraged to explore its development by the Arzobispado in Santiago . It will have the full support of the Bishop of Lugo.

Location – Sarria – accessible from Santiago by train/bus/car.
Accommodation – a self contained apartment in the centre of Sarria will be provided.
Duties – Be available to meet arriving pilgrims. Provide daily evening Mass and confessions in English. To be discussed: whether an early morning Mass for those setting out would be appropriate or indeed whether we should provide an early morning Mass in Sarria and an evening Mass at the end of the first day in Portomarin.   
Language – as in Santiago this ministry is aimed at English speakers however living in Sarria would be all the more enjoyable with conversational Spanish.
Duration of placement – this is a new ministry and would be well served by longer term placements. The ideal would be for one priest to serve for 6 months or two for three months each. However priests with time availability less than this who are keen to work with this new ministry are also very welcome.  

Moratinos/Terradillo de los Templarios

Moratinos is a small, delightful rural community situated on the Meseta in Palencia. It is almost in the middle of the Camino Francés and although it only has around 25 permanent residents it has an hotel, bar restaurant and an albergue. Neighbouring Terradillo de los Templarios  is positively cosmopolitan by comparison with over 500 residents and more albergue beds than Moratinos. Both lie a few kilometres from the main town of Sahagún which is only 2 hours by train from Madrid.  Among the residents of Moratinos live Paddy O’Gara and Rebekah Scott, both former journalists who have dedicated their lives and their home to the care of pilgrims. As part of their property they have a self contained apartment which will be used by chaplains.

Location – Moratinos/Terrajillo de los Templarios.
Accommodation – Self  contained luxury apartment with English speakers living close by.
Duties – Open village church daily to welcome pilgrims. Walk stretches of the Camino to meet pilgrims. Provide daily Mass for pilgrims of many nationalities. Say Sunday mass for the local community.
Language – Ability to say Mass in Castellano and speak conversational Spanish is essential.  
Duration of placement – Two/three weeks is considered to be the optimum.

For further information and to apply please email John Rafferty, Coordinator:

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Camino Chaplaincy 2015 - End of Year Report

 “A HUGE highlight of my last Camino.

“We went to the pilgrim mass yesterday when we arrived, and it was a fantastic and moving experience but without Spanish I could only participate in my head. So to be able to go to the English mass this morning was absolutely lovely. The priest asked us all to introduce ourselves by name, where we were from and where we had walked from, and it was wonderful to hear so many different voices - American, Canadian, Irish, a few of us Brits, Dutch, Mexican - and a guy who lives just across the road   And it was very special indeed to have the Pilgrim Blessing in English. Thanks to everyone involved in organising it.”

“I loved hearing the Pilgrim Blessing, as well as the Scriptures, read in Father Joe's soft Irish accent. He made us feel very welcome and a part of things the entire service. Definitely a highlight of the day.” 

“I stayed in SdC for four days after completing the Caminho portugues last week, and attending the 10:30am English mass became a vital part of my daily routine. I found the liturgy to be reverent and prayerful, and Father Joe and Father Juan Carlos gave thoughtful homilies that spoke directly to our experience as pilgrims. It was a true blessing to be able to take part.”

“I went to the English mass this morning, and it was a real highlight of my Camino. Thank you, Camino chaplaincy, for the vibrant and meaningful service.

These are just some of the comments the Camino Chaplaincy has received during this year.

7000 attend Chaplaincy Services

Last Friday the 16th the last Mass of the Chaplaincy season took place in the “English” Chapel in the Cathedral. The Chaplain Fr Joe presided and he was joined by Fr Juan Carlos and Fr Tony O’Riordon SJ. Fr Juan Carlos lives in Santiago and was the locum priest on Wednesdays to give Fr Joe a day off. Tony is a friend of Joe’s who came out in June to give him a break.

The last Mass was the 140th provided in the Chapel. In addition, during May, June, July and August we provided 86 Evening Services. From our experience over the last two years we now know that the numbers of English speaking pilgrims arriving drops considerably in August hence our decision to stop Evening Services at the end of August.
In total 6,500 people attended our services in the Chapel and approximately 500 attended the Masses provided by Chaplaincy priests in the 5 week outreach pilot.

There were 8 volunteer Chaplaincy Assistants and this number included two married couples. Both couples served for one month each, two volunteers served for three weeks and two for two weeks.    

Bishop Ralph who spent a week with us has agreed to become President of the Camino Chaplaincy and he is currently writing to Cardinal Vincent Nichols the President of the Conference of Bishops of England and Wales and Archbishop Eamon Martin, the Primate of All Ireland regarding the future development of the Chaplaincy.

Sadness and Joy

During the season we were informed about 6 pilgrims who had died on the Camino including the tragic case of Denise Theim. Mass and prayers were offered for all of them. In one case we were able to support the family of a pilgrim who died in Santiago.
The family of another pilgrim who died in Sarria asked for our support when they visited to scatter their Dad’s ashes. Whilst not religious they were very pleased that Mass was offered for their father and the pilgrims present embraced them in solidarity.

It seems between 6 and 10 pilgrims from English speaking countries die on the Camino every year and so we are discussing how best to make them aware of the Chaplaincy and the support we can offer. As well as the country associations we will also make Embassies aware of our services.
We continue to remember those pilgrims who died:

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. Amen.

In contrast there was great joy when Jakki and Matthew from California arrived to be married by Fr Joe at the end of their Camino. We had been in correspondence for some months to arrange everything as required by the Church and the law in Spain.


We are very grateful to Sisters Marion and Katherine FCJ of the Camino Companions who with a representative of the Pilgrim House invited those attending mass to go for coffee afterwards. This proved a popular opportunity for pilgrims to share their experiences.
The Pilgrims’ House offers a range of services for pilgrims arriving in Santiago.
The Camino Companions offer a listening service for pilgrims and provide an opportunity for them to share with each other.  

The future – Priests needed!

We are delighted that Fr Joe has agreed to return next year and currently we are in correspondence with a number of other priests who are interested in helping.

An ambition would be to develop a ministry in Sarria where we would offer a Pilgrims Mass and Blessing and an invitation to visit the Chaplaincy 100 kms later in Santiago!
Fr Alan outside of the church in Moratinos
We would also like to continue with the ministry in Moratinos and Terradillo de los Templarios and we particularly welcome enquiries from priests who in addition to English can say Mass Spanish for the local pueblo.