The Tenth Carmelite Way Pilgrimage 2019

On 8-10 November 32 pilgrims, led by Paul Sireh O. Carm and Denis Andrew O. Carm, braved the cold and wet Melbourne weather to walk along the Yarra Valley Rail Trail for the tenth Annual Carmelite Way pilgrimage. In spite of the weather forecast for very wet days we managed to stay fairly dry and in fact it was wonderful walking weather. Like previous years we are very grateful for the contribution of Sacred Heart Bethlehem community and Whitefriars College for the use of buses and the reliable bus drivers, Rob and David who have generously served us for some years now. The weekend cannot happen without the contribution of buses and drivers.

We had 14 new pilgrims and feedback indicates they felt welcomed to the group.  Fr Ken and Sr Kath from Sancta Sophia again welcomed us to the valley at Mt Evelyn where we all huddled under a small rotunda for reflection while the rain poured down. How delightful it was as we finished our prayer time that the sun came out and on we walked for the rest of the day to meet the buses and travel to our accommodation at Pallotti College Millgrove.

On the first evening after dinner Sally Diserio led a reflective talk on aspects of the pilgrimage during the last ten years. Sally captured experiences over the years and also noted the increasing understanding of the regulars of the true meaning of pilgrimage – that is more than just a bushwalk and offers a true retreat style experience at whatever level you desire.

On the first evening we also enjoyed music and singing led by Andrew Lezala, one of the pilgrims.

The second day offered pilgrims a variety of stopping points depending on how far they wanted to walk. Our trusty bus drivers were available at stopping points at 12 km and 18 km. Almost half the group walked all the way back to Pallotti on the second day which is approximately 25 km from the starting point for that day.

On the second evening Fr Paul led us in a reflection on Carmelite Spirituality as a journey symbolised by the scallop shell which we all carried on our backpacks or around our neck. Fr Paul reminded us of the rippling or groove of the shell making it easy to spot fellow pilgrims on the journey and how this has a rippling effect on us towards others and God. When talking about the early Carmelites Fr Paul said they too were pilgrims and we continue this journey today. To finish we listened to a John of the Cross poem put to music by Loreena McKennitt

There was much music shared during this weekend including on the second evening with Arthur and Gai (two pilgrims from previous years) playing the Celtic harp, guitar and an oud type instrument. This was very special and we were also entertained by Arthur’s song about the Enneagram which he has discovered through his association with Sancta Sophia

On Sunday we walked to Sancta Sophia in time for our Mass together at 11am which was followed by a picnic lunch provided by Pallotti College. The main celebrant was Fr Paul and assisted by Fr Ken. After an enjoyable lunch together we made our way back to Lilydale station for the journey home.


Links for Photos

The Commissioning Mass 2019



Feedback from Previous Pilgrimages

‘Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the Carmelite Way Pilgrimage. It engaged my whole being – body and soul and my relationship with those traveling the way. I can only guess at the amount of time and effort expended to make this a worthwhile experience for everyone. Over the three days, this became more evident to me. I thought the planning and organisation was superb…I found the group very supportive. Many thanks to all involved.’
Kevin Dowsing

Thanks to all of you who I have met and talk to. It was a great time for me to be able to be among you. Thanks for the friendship we shared, the kindness, caring and generosity that I have experienced from you all. May God bless you all.Kind regards
Brother Agedo Bento

Thanks so much for a truly special spiritual experience, my first longer walk (and pilgrimage) since I was a teenager! What made an impact on me was being surrounded by and understanding Gods creation while enjoying the company of fellow pilgrims on our journey. While I was anticipating more solitude and less chatting while on our journey I found God created opportunities for me to hear the spirit through bush sounds and especially the gentle conversations with fellow pilgrims. I learnt more about myself and what guides the soul. Felt very humble at the end of the weekend sensed the presence of God a few times as well! In terms of follow up to the pilgrimage, I would like to include my animal and plant identification skills into the weekends appreciation of creation around us, look into including what pilgrims may hear (birds, bush signs, etc) or see (plants, clouds, habitats) while on their journey…I can help in this. Using the senses to ‘hear & see’ God around oneself…
Martin O’Brien

A group of 27 people set out to walk the beautiful Lilydale to Warburton rail trail 10-12 November. Amongst the group there was a range of walking experience, some who had walked hundreds of kilometres and some who were unsure of their ability but willing to try none the less. Over three days we walked beside still waters, through groves of eucalypts, past lush farm paddocks and fragrant rose gardens, then cooled our feet in tumbling streams. We enjoyed the camaraderie of our companions in coffee shops in small towns along the way, we identified bird calls and local flora and at times walked in silence. We laughed and prayed and tended blisters. For two nights we slept at Pallotti College at Millgrove, perched on the side of a hill overlooking the glorious Yarra Valley and at the end of our walk we were welcomed by the community of Sancta Sofia at Warburton and shared the Eucharist.

This was “The Carmelite Way”, a truly Australian pilgrimage experience and if you think you would like to try it the dates for next year are 9th – 11th Nov. Thank you Irene and Damien for instigating this wonderful opportunity and for offering it to us over the last 8 years.
Sally Diserio

Loved, loved the weekend again….God’s garden is always a wonder and along with the pilgrims we are truly blessed!  Fr. Paul made an impact on me.  His Theme for the weekend was to “open your eyes””, he asked us to do this at the start and then used the same for his talk to us in the evening on Friday.  I love the song and find I can use it as a prayer anytime.

Maybe it would be good to arrange a talk/get-together with Martin about the natural wonders…as he was a fountain of knowledge and really loved the environment.

Fr. Ken and Sr. Kath’s choice of “How Great Thou Art” at the end of Mass was so perfect and brought some of us to tears.  Amazing ending to our weekend being at Santa Sophia.  Thanks to all for all the effort put in.

It was a new addition that you handed out the map of the Rail Trail.  I liked to read about things that maybe I had seen but not realized the reasons they were on the trail e.g.  The Queen passed along the busy Monbulk Road in 1956, crowds gathered (at the crossing we still make into Mt. Evelyn) and they waved……It brought back the memory for me of seeing her on the same tour but I was in Salisbury/Harare, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and clearly remember waving madly as the cars went past us!  Small world.

Special thanks to you both, wonderful job well done and I’m looking forward to 2018 already.
Gus Sutherland