November 30, 2019 Editor

My Bonnevaux Pilgrimage Reflections 2.0

Avatar Paola Di Pietro

photo above: Hong Kong meditators arriving in Bonnevaux


WN: A delightful reflection!

I’ll also include after the excerpts the latest update video on Bonnevaux. Esther and I had the beautiful experience of volunteering at Bonnevaux for two weeks in 2018.


When I decided to join my parents for the pilgrimage to Bonnevaux, I was excited but wary. The majority of the trip participants were solidly middle-aged (some even elderly) Hong Kong ladies, and I was going to be the youngest person by decades. Now that the pilgrimage is over, I realize that I need not have worried too much. Before the trip I had already steeled myself for the inevitabilities of traveling with a large group of elderly women. The perpetual need for bathroom stops, incessant photo taking, and stragglers who inevitably meandered into shops were exactly as I had anticipated. What I did not anticipate was how young at heart the group could be.

Many in the group displayed a commitment to living their faith that I found inspiring. Furthermore, our group comprising both Catholics and Protestants resulted in a delightful ecumenical cross-pollination throughout the trip. On our last day of pilgrimage, I was thrilled to find myself explaining how to do Confession to a Protestant lady who was curious and wanted to try, even though she had never done it before.

Faith was and is a grounded decision

As the trip progressed, I felt immense gratitude for my parents. Of course, my mother had put together a wonderful itinerary that required months of planning, but I was truly thankful for her faith. That I wanted to come on the pilgrimage at all was a testament to how my parents had not only lived their faith, but also transmitted it to me.

For as long as I can remember, faith has been a pivotal part of my family’s life. As I grew older, my mother increasingly shared with my younger sister and me her own struggles and doubts, allowing us to see that faith was not a blind emotion but a grounded decision. That my sister and I are today both (hopefully) strong, independent, intelligent, socially conscious, and critical-thinking women of faith is because of my parents’ foresight to let us choose to be Catholic ourselves.

A happier and lighter heart

After two weeks, I did not feel sad that the trip was coming to a close. On the contrary, I felt oddly happy about returning back home. My saints’ squad was going to be with me even if I was no longer in France. The meditation retreat at Bonnevaux had planted a germinating seed within me, and Fr. Laurence’s talks energised me to persist in meditation outside of the serene and tranquil environment at Bonnevaux. Though I’ve come back to Philadelphia a few pounds heavier, my heart is lighter after surrendering to God.

Please click on: Bonnevaux Pilgrimage


Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.

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