The route to Buckfast Abbey is now all prepared and 104 pilgrims have signed on for what promises to be the most spectacular yet of our series of pilgrimages and certainly the hardest. As you will see from the enclosed route cards a very helpful band of people have been out exploring the route I welcome Anthony Evans, Patrick Reeves, Bernard Coleman, Moira Stephens, Susan Martin and Pat Vaughan to this happy task. But pilgrims be warned, there are some very long days either side of Blandford Forum, and some very hilly days along the coastal path and across Dartmoor. But then it wouldn’t be a pilgrimage without a challenge!

Fifty-six pilgrims are planning to walk the whole 251 miles - 57 with Snoopy! Many have opted to walk for only one week this year, so that we are expecting 75 for the first week, and 90 for the second. Unfortunately all the big halls are on the first week, and all the small halls on the second, so if anyone else wants to join us it will have to be on the Arundel - Dorchester section. But old friends and new are welcome at any stage to join us for a day’s walk and we hope that many will.


This Easter Margaret Archer led very successful pilgrimage for the Portsmouth Diocese all around the Isle of Wight, which was very flatteringly modelled on our own pilgrimages. Margaret reported afterwards: “We made it! The weather was glorious, accommodation ‘luxurious’, hospitality along the way most generous, spiritually uplifting experience with a fantastic crowd of fellow pilgrims - 25 full time, 10 part time, 1 dog Blackie with Fr Paul Spellman, plus 150 day pilgrims.” (Blackie and Fr Spellman also walked a few miles with us on the way to Glastonbury.) Congratulations to Margaret and her fellow pilgrims.


An even more ambitious "daughter pilgrimage” is happening right now in France. St Joan of Arc 's parish, Farnham, from where our pilgrimages originated, is this year celebrating its 50th anniversary. So under the leadership of Mike Simons a group of 16 have set off for France last Saturday (12th July). First they went to Domremy, the place of her birth, and then to Vaucouleurs on foot. In fact early reports have it that their first camp site was water-logged and their plans rather set back last weekend! Then they are travelling to Chinon and walking from there up the Loire Valley to Orleans as Joan did at the head of the French army. In fact your newsletter editor and pilgrimage organiser hopes to join them this Sunday for the last few days of this trek. And then the pilgrimage will end at Rouen with Mass in the Basilica of St Joan for which two coach loads of parishioners will he travelling from Farnham to join the pilgrims.


On July 8th Kathleen Archer, who walked all the way to Walsingham and Glastonbury with us, was married to Peter Hunt. No reports are to hand yet of that great event, but congratulations and best wishes to Kathleen and Peter.

And the most long awaited pilgrim wedding of all, Aid ‘n’ Meld of course, is all set for Saturday 6th September at 3pm at St Joan’s, Farnham. Aidan will be with us on pilgrimage this summer, and has in fact planned the last three days’ walk, while Imelda is off to Ireland.


Fr Pat Olivier has been appointed to the onerous task of National Catholic Information Officer. He is now working at the Catholic Information Office. So if you don’t like the news blame Fr Pat!


Dawn Willson has just left England to accompany her husband  on a diplomatic tour of duty in Bucharest. We wish her well for her stay in Romania which sounds an exciting country with both the Black Sea and the Carpathian Mountains. Dawn and Dee-Dee-Dog walked with us to Canterbury and back last summer.


Lots of past pilgrims have written to explain why they can’t cone this year, and have asked me to pass on their very good wishes to all those pilgriming to Buckfast. Among these are:

Father Bob Eccles sends his love and asks for prayers for his new job as chaplain to the University of Strathclyde.

Tim Weir, who took his A levels this summer and was then hoping to go to Israel for at least six months to work on a kibbutz, But he says, he will miss the great atmosphere and enjoyment of the annual pilgrimage this summer.

Susan Martin, after exploring the Winchester - Romsey day finds herself unable to join us, as she is suffering with a thrombosis in her leg, and is due for an operation about this time. Good luck, Sue, and we all hope you are walking well again soon.

Eddie Collard has taken a summer job, for which he needed to work for 8 weeks consecutively. Many others have had similar difficulties, needing money, and jobs requiring them to through the pilgrimage fortnight. But Eddie and Father Bob Garrard have promised to join us somewhere en route, and Eddie assures all his fans he will relate the story of “The blue and red knight on the black and white horse” on that occasion.


Youthgather 1980 is on Sunday 28th September at St Teresa's, Effingham. You must go! This year our Diocesan sponsored walk is in aid of a multi-purpose community centre being built by one of our priests in Peru. It is always a great occasion and a tine when many pilgrims and other friends meet up again. The format is as usual, a 20Km sponsored walk, followed by a Youth Mass and Disco. Details and sponsorship forms are available from all parishes and schools of the diocese or from Father Ralph Message


Another date for young people of the Brighton Deanery is 10th - 12th October, when there will be a weekend long get together combining spiritual and social events with the aim of initiating more youth activities in the Brighton area. Pilgrim style accommodation. Further details from Mike O'Shea who will be taking part in the Buckfast Pilgrimage.


A big omission from the list of trainee nurses and medics given in the last newsletter was Lucy Grafen, who is, of course, studying medicine at the University of Glasgow. Sorry about that, Lucy; good luck in your studies, and roll on the day when "the doctor is in". (The above section is for Peanuts devotees only.)


The latest new from Father Hans Burgman was dated 19th March. He has been doing a pilgrimage following the steps of the first missionaries to Kenya from Nairobi to Mumias - 280 miles. He says “it came off very well. It was tough though; the daily distances were rather big (20 miles, with heavy packs) and the heat was colossal. Often we were on the road from 6.30am to 5pm. Where people lived you could usually find small shops or tea-houses; that fortnight we survived on doughnuts, fruit, and Cola or Sprite. Our progress was twice as fast as that of the first missionaries, but, then of course we did not have to build bridges or shoot game; but then again we had no porters or donkeys. We slept in all sorts of places but never in the open. Owing to the high altitude (up to 9000feet) the nights were really cold.” Father Hans was a great inspiration to us on our first two pilgrimages, and it is good to know that he is still continuing his hectic adventures.

Back in Kisumu the big event has been the opening of an "informal school", for the local street urchins or "parking boys” - they try to earn a little money by guarding parked cars. Two full time teachers have been engaged and the number of pupils is growing rapidly. But most of these boys have nowhere to stay, so Father Hans and his friends have taken 15 of them in to live in the centre, and are already beginning to see a change in these youngsters, aged 10 to 15, turned out of broken homes, who were beginning to become young criminals.

Father sums up that their overall strategy remains: to channel the people's religious energy in such a way that they tackle their own problems. Contributions can be sent to “Pilgrims in Africa, The Financial Secretary, St Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, London, NW7 4JX."