What does it mean to be a Pilgrim?

What does it mean to be a Pilgrim?

The vision and resolve of the Pilgrim over the centuries have been motivating forces for new discovery.  In taking space from a busy life, a call to be a pilgrim and what has followed has led to a more deeply reflective way of living and even, in the case of Christians, a closer following of Jesus’ way.  ‘To be a pilgrim’ has been the aspiration of many in Australia who desire knowledge and experience of what this Ignatian spirituality might be, and how it has formed the ethos of many Ignatian ministries.

What follows is the forward to the Pilgrim’s Journal used by many Jesuit ministries in Australia, and it is in this spirit that JISA is offering a variety of experiences in this Ignatian year.


A pilgrimage is a metaphor for the spiritual journey taken by each person, transformed into the physical, with all the challenges, demands and hardship that accompany it. A pilgrimage transcends the confines of a ‘tour’ or ‘sightseeing’. As Ignatian spirituality is about finding God in all things, the journey of a pilgrimage is central to our faith byseeking to discover God in new situations.

As a pilgrimage is the melding of both the physical and spiritual journey, the destination – the shrine, the mountain or the church – signifies not the end of the journey, but the start, a portal into a new way of being and seeing life, afresh with spiritually cleansed eyes. By divesting ourselves from social ties, by placing ourselves in new and unfamiliar situations and by journeying with others, a pilgrimage allows us to experience ”communitas’, or fellowship, allowing us to learn from the lives of others and see God in new ways.

The journey of a pilgrimage is often difficult. Pilgrims travel long distances. They have few belongings. They carry little baggage. They may encounter hardship and challenges. However, God is always present along the journey; we as pilgrims must remain alert to the signs, and cognisant of God’s guidance along the way.


Michael Ryan, Director JISA Campion, Melbourne