Camino 2018 - Canonisation of Blessed Oscar Romero


Here we are, at the airport in Rome ready to fly home. What an amazing pilgrimage it has been for all seven of us. Each one of us have had our own unique encounters along the way. On our final day, we begun by visiting two special pilgrim churches: The Archbasilica of St John Lateran (the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome) and Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (the Basilica of the Holy Cross). Both churches were amazing.

Our final pilgrim experience occurred over lunch at Termini train station. We caught up with a man from El Salvador, German de Silva. German, was taught by Fr Rutilio Grande and more importantly was a Catechist in his parish under the guidance of St Romero. German shared with us the numerous encounters (twice a month) that he had with St Romero. Of deep significance to us, he shared of the heart of Romero, a man of the people who proclaimed the truth of the Gospel in all circumstances. German encouraged us to continue to use Romero as a model of Christian living, that despite any circumstances we face, we must remain faithful to the Gospel.


Today we went to Subiaco, Italy.  There is a strong Connection to Holy Cross through the Benedictine monks, Rosendo Salvado and the fact that it is the sister town of our Subiaco in Perth. There were two places in particular that we visited today; the Abbey of Santa Scolastica (consecrated to St Scolastica the twin sister of St Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine order of which Dom Salvado was a member) and Sacro Speco (the Holy Cave in which St Benedict spent three years in before founding the Benedictine Order).  A monastery has been built into the cliff side around the cave.   Rosendo Salvado visited both of these places before moving to Australia.

Our last day of sight seeing was the best way to finish off a wonderful week in Italy. We enjoyed breathtaking views of the country side and the hospitality of people of Subiaco.  We finished the way we started our connection to Italy, on a pilgrimage in which we connected with God, self, others and nature.

The Rome experience has given me many spiritual connections within the walls of many historical buildings, Basilicas and Chapels.

When Mr Shelton placed his hand on my shoulder and said "Welcome home", as we walked through St Peter's Basilica, I did feel just that, as emotions welled in my chest.  I have had many more moments like this throughout the week, in the people we met and the historical places we have visited.  These are moments of time forever locked in grateful  memories.

As we all have left our loved ones behind while travelling in Italy, I am blessed and honoured to have journeyed with such an amazing group of staff and students from Holy Cross and to have shared all the experiences of Rome. Buon Cammino, Roma.
Mrs Colleen Azzopardi


Today was a life changing and beautiful day. It was amazing to see Oscar Romero become a saint. I found it beautiful to see so many people from El Salvador there to celebrate his Canonisation. One of his famous quotes was, “I do not believe in death without the resurrection.If they kill me I will rise again in the people of El Salvador”. I believe that this quote was fulfilled today and he really did rise with the people of El Salvador. This proves that the community of El Salvador was impacted by his teachings and of him trying to make El Salvador a place that was just. Throughout the last two days we had the privilege of meeting those who have had the greatest pleasure of knowing him and who traveled all this way, many of whom didn’t know if they had a ticket for the ceremony when we spoke to them last night.  They travelled all this way to celebrate with the Pope and with all of us as Romero became  a saint.

Today I witnessed a patron and a hero of mine receive his day of glory. To be around the Salvadorian people who had met him, shook his hand and even worked with him was one of the most emotional experiences of my life. I will never truly know the impact he had on those he encountered, but I will be forever grateful for the impact he has on me. I never met him, I never shook his hand, I never worked a day with him, but I will forever feel like he was family. I will hold him, his story and the people that he worked so hard for ever so closely to my heart. May he continue to live on, not just in the heart of El Salvador, but in the heart of the College and in the heart of the world. Viva Oscar Romeo!  

Today was a very significant day for myself and also our school community - The Canonisation of Oscar Romero. Starting with last night, when meeting the pilgrims from El Salvador, and getting to know a little about their stories really made today’s experience special. Sitting behind the Salvadorans made the day more special for us as it gave us a connection between our school and the people of El Salvador. The Pope wore the blood stained rope belt which had been worn by Romero, which made us realise how special the Pope found Romero to be,  Overall even if we didn’t understand the language of the Mass,  we could still see the importance of Romero and the other six who were canonised had on the Church and its people. To top off the day being able to see the Pope up close was a very serial experience because we had found it amazing just to be in the presence of the Pope but having him come past on his Popemobile was even more crazy. I witnessed how important Romero was to the people. Oscar Romero was known as a man of the people and this was seen significantly today and last night. This experience has really given me the opportunity to learn more about Romero and his story but through this it has also given me the courage to stand up for what I think is right. Very clearly, Romero has done the same to thousands of other people too.   

Romero said, ‘I do not believe in death without resurrection, if they kill me, I will rise again in the Salvadoran people.’  We met some of those people last night and were privileged in be with them in St Peter’s Square when Romero was canonised.  Archbishop Oscar Romero, our College patron, is now a saint.  There was no doubt as we gathered with so many others today that Romero was revered because he was a man who had the courage to be the sort of Christian we would all want to be.  He stood up for his people against all odds because he believed that was what his faith was calling him to do.  Romero died because he worked to build a community of transformation in spirit of the risen Christ.  This is why in 2010 we took him as our College patron - because in the life he lived he epitomised the aspirations of our College Vision.  Words cannot capture all that I felt during this very special and deeply spiritual experience.  It was such a privilege to be present when Pope Francis declared Oscar Romero a saint. 

Today Oscar Romero became a saint.  It was a most privileged moment in my life to be part of and witness this amazing man who only wanted the best for the people of his country, El Salvador.  Today all his hard efforts and sacrifices that he worked hard for have been granted.  It was so special being present at the Vatican, representing our College as well as making new friendships with the El Salvadorian people we have met over the past days.  I  am blessed to be part of this and to be able to share this experience with six people who have been my family while here in Rome.  
Romero stated, “I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I will rise again in the people of El Salvador”. At the Canonisation today, Saint Oscar Romero officially rose with the El Salvadorian people. For me, I felt like a Salvadorian whom Saint Oscar Romero rose within. It’s difficult to put words around the deeply spiritual experience of being there today with the universal church. The connectedness of the community stood out... thousands and thousands of people, from all around the world gathered as one Body of Christ to challenge ourselves individually to become more holy, like Romero. We plant the seeds that one day will grow, knowing that they hold a future promise. Santo Santo Santo!

Moving through the streets of Rome with so many people on the way to St Peter’s Square made me realise how many people had made a special journey for their saint today. The people of El Salvador would have been proud that, at last, the person they loved and revered had been acknowledged in this way. The music, the prayers, even though they were in Latin, were beautiful and fitted the occasion so appropriately. The size of the crowd didn’t really hit until after the Mass.  I was there to celebrate that ‘our’ Saint’s life on earth had been seen as that of a Saint. What a reward for so many! 


Today was a BIG day. After a short train ride our day began in the Vatican Museum. We thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful artwork, but the highlight was going into the Sistine Chapel. It was amazing to see Michelangelo’s ‘Last Judgement’ on the front wall of the Chapel. 

After a lunch stop (amazing pizza), the line into St Peter’s Basilica was too long so we then caught another train to St Paul’s Outside the Walls. At this point, this was the biggest church we had ever been in! It was beautiful, and a lot quieter than the Sistine Chapel because it wasn’t as crowded - which we enjoyed. This was of particular significance for us as this had the Benedictine Abbey attached to it. It was in this Abbey that Dom Salvado died. In the bookshop outside of St Paul’s we ran into Fr Brennan Sia - Parish Priest in Kalgoorlie. 

After this we went back into Termini by train station and met up with Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey to give him his ticket for the canonisation. It was great sitting down to listen to his stories over a coffee. 

Our final stop for the day was back at the Vatican, St Peter’s Basilica. Fr Brennan was very helpful and gave us a full tour of St Peters. St Peters is now the biggest church we have ever seen - it was amazing! As we left the basilica we met a group of people from El Salvador. This was very moving. We met a Bishop from El Salvador, a lady who was confirmed by Oscar Romero and a priest who shook hands with Romero. They were amazed that in Australia we celebrate the story of Romero. We showed them pictures of our statue of Romero. They took photos with us. The joy on their faces when they talked about Romero was immense. 


After a relaxed morning, we made our way from Cassino to Rome. The train ride was very pleasant and was direct so the time went extremely fast and before we knew it we had arrived in Rome. Once arriving in Rome, we had a chance to explore. We started by just exploring the surrounds of our hotel, doing a little shopping as well getting some lunch. We then started to enjoy the wider area of Rome and ticked off many things from bucket lists. We visited a few iconic places while Ms Connor and Mr Muller, went to get the tickets for the Canonisation of Oscar Romero. First we visited the Colosseum, we then went to the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon and finished at the Spanish Steps. After an amazing day we have all ticked off many bucket lists items and we can’t wait to explore more.  When the group got back together in the evening it was great to know we had the tickets for Sunday’s Canonisation Ceremony. 


One of the main things I got from this section of the Camino was a definition for the term "Faith Journey". In some ways I got this definition through spiritual experiences and in another way through my physical experiences. In all pilgrimages there is a beginning, the journey itself and the arrival at the destination. It was upon reflecting on this that I realised this is our Faith Journey. We have our baptism, the beginning of us belonging to God's Family. After this we begin our Journey, the journey of life. In life we try to walk towards God. Sometimes we will stumble on the pebbles and rocks that litter the ground, other times we will have straight ground, with nothing obstructing our path towards God. Finally we have our arrival at our destination. Our desired destination, both after a pilgrimage and our lives, is God and what he has to give is. It is this link between our earthly lives and pilgrimage that I have found the meaning of our Faith Journey. 

Today’s experience really captured what my faith means to me. One thing that I learnt today was that when going through troubling times in our lives we have God who is able to help guide us in the right direction. This was important to me as even though I felt like I couldn’t finish or my knees were going to give way at any point, just remembering why I was on the Cammino really helped me to learn more. Even though we all are on our own faith journeys we were all able to connect with one another to reach our goal (Monte Cassino) through the power of God, but ultimately in all different ways we were able to discover God throughout our pilgrimage. After the long walk, walking into the Monte Cassino, a Benedictine community, was an amazing experience. Being in Salvado House, has made me able to connect with the monastery as Dom Salvado was a Benedictine Monk. Being able to go inside the monastery gave me a slight experience of what these Monks experience. 

Today was a life changing and a beautiful day. It was amazing to see the connections through the olive trees that have a connection with the Benediction Monks and through that connection we have at school through the Olive Grove that links back to us as a school community. 

Even though there were moments today where discomfort, pain and mental doubt took hold of me. The spiritual connection to the Benedictine Monks while walking strengthened and clarified the meaning of pilgrimage and  faith,  Every step, every smell, every sound, every painful moment was worth it in getting to our end destination - which  was breathtaking and touched me deep in my soul.  It was the best experience to be part of.  

Something that resonated for me today was the idea of lineage. Orientating our focus towards St Benedict led me to grow into a deeper understanding of the person of Dom Salvado. A person who followed the rule of St Benedict, and both of whom ultimately focused on the same Christ that I do today. The Saints of our faith are just common people like you and I who are striving for a deeper connection to God. You don’t have to be anything special except keep God within your midst. That’s what all the saints do. On pilgrimage we pray with our feet, we join into communion within the footsteps of our ancestors in walking towards God.

This pilgrimage reminded me of the way we connect with others through experiences on the journey. A memorial I saw along the side of the road made me think of a family, unknown to me and most who walk past, who helped to remind me of the sacrifices of a loved one during the bitter campaign to take back St Benedict’s monastery in the last world war. I also prayed for that ‘unknown’ soldier. The pain I felt was nothing compared to the pain they felt.

As we walked today the connections to Dom Salvado and the Benedictine community of New Norcia were ever present - the Benedictine crosses on the way markers, the Olive trees, the statues of St Benedict and the beautiful monastery of Monte Cassino built high on the hill.  Having chatted easily along the way  we walked the last section of our pilgrimage in silence and I was struck by the connections through the ages  - St Benedict ... Salvado ... the Benedictine Community of New Norcia ... Holy Cross ... myself ... all sharing a common faith story.

Day One: Cammino Di San Benedetto

Bon Cammino!

We started our day today in the beautiful town of Arpino. This was to be the starting point for the Cammino di San Benedetto. The walk took us through the breathtaking but, in parts, rugged Italian countryside. We were met just outside Arpino by an extremely friendly dog who decided to join us for the duration of the walk. He became quite a beloved companion amongst the group, particularly with Ms Connor. 

The 20km long walk was a great opportunity for us all to reflect on our own personal faith journey. For me personally it was in times of silence on the walk that I was able to reflect on my thoughts and my faith and the sheer beauty of God's creation and how we will never understand his power and his love for us. There has been a little bit of a language barrier, but the willingness and determination of the Italian people to help and to serve us has made it so much easier. Oscar Romero is revered for his compassion and support for struggling in society. The Italians we have encountered have shared this same Romero spirit with us. 

There are a few sore legs and tired eyes after the walk, but we all feel very blessed to have the opportunity to witness the historic occasion of Oscar Romero's Canonisation. Such a special occasion in the history of our College and for the people that have been touched by the story of Romero’s courage and faith.

John Topliss
Year 10


Today’s journey took us to our first destination, Arpino. After over 20 hours of travelling we were met with some of the most incredible scenery in the world. Arpino is situated about 130km east of Rome in the luscious country side of Italy.

Arpino is connected to our Holy Cross story. Tomorrow we will begin the Camino Benedetto. We will be embarking on 2 sections of the Way of St Benedict. Rosendo Salvado was a Benedictine who lived a life devoted to the rule of St Benedict. One of the key parts of this monastic life is a devotion to prayer. For us, the two days of Camino that we will be walking will be our way of praying with our feet.

It’s not going to be an easy pilgrimage. Both days are about 20km each of Italian countryside. Mountains and rough terrain, but like all pilgrimages we have a holy place as our destination. On Thursday we will be walking into the Abbey of Monte Cassino. This Abbey is the first Abbey that was established by the Benedictines. So in essence we will be walking in the footsteps of the foundation of the heritage of Rosendo Salvado. It is fair to say we are excited!

But like all pilgrimages - this will be hard. We know as Catholics that we are called to join with Christ in our sufferings. For Christ he understood the sufferings about to come in the Garden of Gethsemane and for Oscar Romero his Gethsemane moments were the constant thread of people calling for Romero to hide in his own residence - but God had bigger plans for him.

The challenge for us all in the Holy Cross community is to continue to be resilient in the face of adversity. St Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that, 'God’s grace is made perfect in our weakness’.

May we join in with Romero, who followed the footsteps of Our Lord in embracing the challenge with optimism.

Mr Ryan Shelton
Director of Faith

We are on our way!

We are currently boarding the plane en route to Rome! The anticipation is immense. For 3 of our 7 pilgrims this is the first International Flight and for 4/7 this is the first time to Rome!

We have a 20 hour journey ahead of us. 12 hours from Perth to Doha, 2 hour stop off and then 6 hours from Doha to Rome.

Bon Camino

Passport Arrives!

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