XirCammini on the Move!

We are pleased to inform you that, as mentioned earlier, we are rolling out:

1. Annual membership and

2. Activities

Membership

You can complete membership formalities by visiting:

On the same form please indicate which activities you are interested in (you can multi-select).

Activities

We are launching the following activities between now and June 2022:

  1. 12th August – 8th September: Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela (Central Route)
  2. 27th August – 8th September: Porto to Santiago de Compostela
  3. Early – mid-Dec (to benefit from the 2 public holidays): Costiera Amalfitana
  4. Long Weekend February (feast of St. Paul): Matera ed I Sassi
  5. March 2022 (1 week Camino Norte)
  6. Summer 2022: Irish Caminos

Evening walks will be organized every Tue and Thurs starting from this Thursday, 10th June, and will be open only to members. It is highly recommended that those who are interested in either of the Camino Portuguès routes this summer join at least one if not both walks each week. These will not be leisure walks.

Because Life is a Journey … “The Strait and Narrow”

We come across the saying, “strait and narrow” or also seen today as “straight and narrow”.

Have you ever wondered where the phrase comes from?

Matthew 7:14 is the answer: “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which. leads to life.”

Whether we embrace a particular faith or religion, or whether we believe in God or the universe, in energy or humanity, we are all on a journey and, hopefully, that journey should be one of metanoia (“U” turns for the Christian), jihad (inner struggles and inner victories for the Muslim), Nirvana (Buddhism), Gita (Hindu paths) or ethical living (humanist).

Irrespective of our starting point, the waymarks all point to the same perennial destination however we define or perceive it.

Please do not mistake the wood for the trees by this paragraph and dismiss the rest of the piece as a partisan post. It is a think piece about our moral compass that helps us navigate the journey of life. The Times of Malta in the last 24 hrs carried at least 3 news pieces and an editorial regarding the alleged mastermind behind the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia funding the defense of the alleged assassins and of (sitting and resigned) members of cabinet potential involvement in this and other crimes, businessmen involvement with the government on national projects and an Ombudsman report highlighting allegedly systematic failures at (ex)Commissioner level within the Police Corps. Some might tell me not to mention such events because it hurts our reputation. Conversely, one can highlight H.E. the President’s stand, grounded in personal moral conviction and principles, that he would rather walk out from office than signing an abortion bill (quote: “I cannot stop the executive from deciding, that is up to Parliament.  But I do have the liberty, if I don’t agree with a bill, to resign and go home, I have no problem doing this.” )

We sometimes worry too much about reputation, but the reality is that it is all ultimately about the individual; It is the sum total of the individual characters that culminates in the ‘collective character‘ weaving society and spinning its actions.

Reputation is about how we project ourselves to be seen or about how others perceive us to be. It is not us.

Our character is who we are.

If integrity is not within the very fabric of our character and if our internal moral compass is so mired with infinite shades of grey that it cannot always and unequivocally distinguish black from white, then we lack good character no matter how we hold out ourselves to be in the eyes of others.

And if this is the case, someday, somewhere, somehow along the road, the truth has a way of catching up with us. But let not that be the reason why we should practice righteousness (Gal 6:7).

Be good and do good because it should define who you are regardless of how others perceive you. Never weary of doing good. Always strive to do what is good. (Gal 6:9 | 1 Thes 5:15) regardless.

Because life is a journey .. walk always and everywhere on the “strait and narrow” because it is the path that leads to life.

A Vote of Confidence in the Camino

As uncertainty continues in Spain over Covid-19 restrictions and measures at XirCammini we are certain that the Camino will prevail as it has for centuries before.

Neither war, nor strife, nor agnosticism or indifference have served to kill the Camino. Tomorrow the pandemic will be history, but the Camino will continue.

A XirCammini perregrina busily paints the conchas for our next series of Caminos in Spain, hopefully starting in September 2021:

We also continue with our efforts locally to strengthen the local, mini, Camino and other, historically-embedded, faith walks which will also launch once a normality prevails.

Until then, let’s keep positive and active.

Sincerely … James

A Call for Proposals and the SPED 2 Framework

XirCammini has contributed to the discussion called by the Government in relation to outdoor activities by submitting its proposals.

Today was the submission deadline.

Hiking is the most transient of outdoor pass-times that leaves the least negative impact on the environment and arguably provides the most physical, psychological, and social health and well-being results. A pass-time that is on the increase.

Our proposal focuses on three important pillars i.e. Engagement. Education and Enforcement, taking a holistic approach and involving the widest spectrum of stakeholders possible.

Our recommendations are within the framework of SPED 2 Rural Objective 2.

The following is a link to our proposal:

One dreams, but a team achieves

In March 2020 we were all set to walk the Universal Peace walk 1543® on the Sunday closest to the 12th of March, the original pilgrimage day from when it was first walked in 1543.

But, it was not to be and we reluctantly postponed the event to March 2021 hoping that the pandemic would by then be behind us. During this year we worked at improving the walk in terms of the experience it can offer to those who will walk it.

As we postponed it yet again in 2021, I am pleased to share that with the Universal Peace Walk still on the ‘drawing board’ and so much more ideas and enhancements are flowing into it as more people and parties start to share our enthusiasm for it.

While we patiently wait to be in a position to launch we thought of sharing with you a reminder of the walk.

When Nothing Goes Right, Go Left! Keep Walking, No Matter What!

Introduction

A few years ago I was gifted these 2 cortado mugs by someone I then considered a friend. Sadly, time may have proven otherwise (an “Et tu, Brutus!” situation!) but I still cherish them. I look beyond the messenger and cherish the message they deliver, “When nothing goes right, go left!”

The Prevailing Times

The prevailing times of Covid-19, and the wholesale upheaval it has wreaked in all strata of our lives, bear testament to the constant need to adapt to change, to bowing instead of breaking, to flexing instead of fighting, and to live to fight another day.

From Strength to Strength

Never before the current times have we witnessed such a surge in requests to join the XirCammini community of Facebook. It’s a bit of a paradox because we are not organizing any large group walks so as to comply with the spirit of the prevailing health authority regulations. We ceased both the large-group walks as well as the smaller (cluster group walks) last year. Nevertheless, we continue to encourage solo or small group walks in conformity with Health regulations because the importance of exercise and social interaction outdoors for both physical and mental health cannot be overstated. We also continue to share members’ views and news from local and overseas like-minded organizations (such as the Associations of the Way of St. James).

in the midst of all this, the XirCammini community on Facebook has witnessed unprecedented growth; for example, more than 100 new requests in the last fortnight alone. This fills us with gratitude that we are somehow adding value to people’s lives even in these trying times. Thank you.

Upcoming AGM: Please Vote Online

In keeping with the times, the AGM has to be held by a series of polls which we presented to the XirCammini Community of Facebook. These are in the form of announcements, one on approval of the annual report and accounts which we need to submit to the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations and the other in respect of membership fees which, to date, have been waived:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/345359409704852/announcements

The Annual Report and Accounts is also posted on our website: https://xircammini.org/financial-reports/

Regarding the membership question, those who have been with us since the beginning of 2018 will recall that, although the statute provides for an annual membership fee, this was waived until the end of 2020. Under the prevailing conditions the committee has decided to extend the waiver and give members the opportunity to choose whether they wish to renew their membership with effect from (a.) 1st July 2021, or (b.) 1st January 2022 or (c.) allow their membership to lapse.

In the meantime (until the first date indicated above) we will continue to build a repertoire of membership benefits so that the value of membership by far outstrips the cost (of Euros 20 annually).

After the cut off dates indicated above, the membership community will continue only for those who have indicated a choice of either (a.) or (b.) to be in full conformity with our registration status with the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations.

Aligning Membership

To date we have had to strata of membership i.e.

  1. The ‘full’ members are those who have completed written application forms with us, who have participated in our overseas treks in the past, hold a membership card and who have recently even been contacted via email and
  2. Those who only joined the community on Facebook.

As part of the process that we are currently undertaking, the also need to align the 2 tiers above into 1.

Therefore, those who have not received an email from us and wish to continue with their membership please (a.) mark your preference on the poll and (b.) provide us with your email address on information@XirCammini.org. Thank you.

Universal Peace Walk 1543®

You may recall that XirCammini has worked hard to launch the Universal Peace Walk 1543®. We also continue to work on this project despite the Covid-29 set-backs. https://xircammini.org/universal-peace-walk/

Common sense and health directives also compel us not to hold the Universal Peace Walk 1543® this year as a group activity. However, there is nothing stopping XirCammini members, individually or in small groups respecting health authority directives, walking the Universal Peace Walk 1543®.

If you are a XirCammini Member and intend to continue with your membership as indicated above and are interested in walking the Peace Walk, we would be more than happy to provide you with the following:

  1. Credencial printed specifically for the Universal Peace Walk
  2. A leaflet with the route and a brief description of the route and the history/heritage that surrounds it
  3. A .gpx route
  4. A Certificate of Completion

In return we would ask you to take photos for us to then be able to stamp your Credencial and provide the Certificate. We would also ask for oyur permission to upload (or ask you to upload) to the XirCammini Group on Facebook.

We need to stress the importance of solo or small group walking and strict conformity with prevailing Covid-19 health directives.

We would provide the above free of charge to encourage members to enjoy the outdoors, particularly in spring. No donations will be requested but any donations received would be greatly appreciated to support XirCammini’s work.

Life is a Journey | Keep Walking | Keep Smiling | Keep Safe | God Bless

REPORT ON THE SITUATION OF COVID 19 ON THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

XirCammini, as the Malta representative of the Associations of Friends of the Way of St. James, has received the following message and announcement from the Xunta de Galicia to share with our members, pilgrims and Camino aficionados.

More information, not only in terms of Covid-19 updates in Galicia but about the continuous work of the Xunta de Galicia can also be found on https://www.caminodesantiago.gal/en

Dear President.

Following instructions from the First Vice President of the Xunta de Galicia, I am enclosing a report on the situation of COVID19 on the Camino de Santiago. In this report, you will see the actions implemented by the Government of Galicia and their impact on pilgrims in our region, as well as reference to the main information resources on COVID19 in our region.

I hope that this information will be useful for your association.

Yours sincerely

Ildefonso de la Campa Montenegro, Managing  Director

UPDATE ON HEALTHCARE MEASURES AGAINST COVID IN THE
AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY OF GALICIA AND UPDATE ON PUBLIC
HOSTELS.

29 January 2021.

HEALTHCARE MEASURES IN THE AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY OF
GALICIA AND ITS AFFECT ON THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO.

After the publication of DECREE 8/2021, of 26 January, adopting measures in the territory of the Autonomous Community of Galicia to deal with the healthcare crisis, under the condition of competent delegated authority within the framework of the provisions of Royal Decree 926/2020, of 25 October, declaring a state of alarm to prevent the spread of infections caused by SARS-CoV-2:
https://www.xunta.gal/dog/Publicados/excepcional/2021/20210126/2549/Anunci
oC3B0-260121-1_gl.pdf
, its impact on the Camino de Santiago is as follows:

  1. Limitation on the entry and exit of people to and from the territory
    of the Autonomous Community of Galicia
    from another region of Spain or from foreign countries, except for the exceptions set forth in this decree, from 00:00 on 27 January to 00:00 on 17 February.
  2. Limitations on the entry and exit of people to and from the territory of each of the municipalities of the Autonomous Community of Galicia, except for the exceptions set forth in this decree, from 00.00 on 27 January 2021 until 00.00 on 17 February.
  3. Closure of the public network of pilgrim hostels from 00:00 on 27 January 2021 until 00:00 on 17 February.

HEALTHCARE SITUATION OF THE MUNICIPALITIES OF GALICIA.

To access up-to-date information on the pandemic situation and anti-COVID measures in the municipalities of Galicia, visit the Health Council of the Xunta de Galicia’s website:

https://coronavirus.sergas.gal/Contidos/Restriccions-concellos?idioma=es

SITUATION OF THE PUBLIC NETWORK OF THE XUNTA DE GALICIA’S
PILGRIM HOSTELS.

As indicated in point 1, the public network of pilgrim shelters will be closed from 00:00 on 27 January 2021 until 00:00 on 17 February.

COVID APPS

RADAR COVID

Radar COVID is an application designed by the Government of Spain to help prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Radar COVID anonymously notifies you of possible contact that you may have had in the last 14 days with a person who was infected. In the case that this contact occurred, it enables easy communication with public health.

PassCOVID.gal

PassCOVID.gal is an application designed by the Xunta de Galicia to help keep citizens safe from COVID-19. PassCovid complements RadarCovid and allows you to: consult information of interest; receive notifications if you were in an establishment of risk due to the concentration of infections; communicate any positive COVID-19 diagnosis you may have to contacts you had and the places you visited; and find your Radar COVID code.

It allows you to check the updated status of restrictions in Galicia’s different municipalities.

It enables you to immediately receive important information, to consult the recommendations and to find information about the current state of the pandemic in Galicia.

PROGRAMME: “CAMINO SEGURO” (“SAFE CAMINO”) AND DOWNLOADABLE MATERIALS.

The Xunta de Galicia has launched the Camino Seguro (Safe Camino) programme, an initiative that promotes pilgrimages adapted to the current health situation through a comprehensive protocol of action on Jacobean routes in Galicia.


This programme has established a series of measures for pilgrims and professionals, management entities or volunteers who work on the Jacobean Route.


You can find the protocols, plans and support materials through the following links:

Information for professionals and management entities:
https://www.caminodesantiago.gal/es/caminoseguro/profesionales

Information for pilgrims:
https://www.caminodesantiago.gal/es/caminoseguro/peregrinos

Grace: It doesn’t rain. It pours

Xunta de Galicia Christmas Card

2020: What a Year!

What could have happened but didn’t!

I have written before and will reiterate it again, “If you want to make God laugh, share with him your plans!”

Having launched XirCammini last year, 2020 was the year when we really should have taken off in terms of local and overseas trekking. In 2019 we walked together in Malta on a weekly basis and travelled on Spanish Caminos (Camino Primitivo and Camino Inglés x 2), 5 Celtic Caminos (x2), Via Jacobi in Switzerland, St. Augustine’s Camino in Kent, UK, various short trekking trips to Sicily and also a 2-week end-of-year trekking trip in Sri Lanka where we immersed ourselves in a completely different culture. Late in 2019 we also undertook training to support the UK Confraternity of St. James with volunteers in 2020 to help run a donativo albergue on the Camino Norte that CSJ administers.

We even started 2020 well with a couple of hiking trips in Sicily.

Then Covid-19 struck!

The rest of the itinerary for 2020, i.e. Caminos in France, Spain, Slovakia, Ireland, Italy and a repeat of Sri Lanka, as well as the much-awaited Universal Peace Walk® that we had to launch in March 2020 all had to be shelved. Initial despair gradually turned to a stoic acceptance of what we could not change.. and the year ambled on.

 What did happen!

Wed Walks in Summer

2020 gave us more time for quiet reflection. At a personal level we had more time for our loved ones. We also had time to sort the wheat from the chaff and re-evaluate what is really important in our lives.

For XirCammini, we learned to adapt to the harsh reality of not being able to walk in large groups or trek overseas. It was all part of our journey and not the end of the world.

We

  1. Urged people to walk solo or in small groups between March and June 2020 and posted photos of solo/small groups of a maximum of 3 persons to encourage others to follow suit;
  2. Immediately helped to recoup and reimburse all accommodation and internal travel deposits in connection with the overseas treks. All were 100% reimbursed thanks to the goodwill of the overseas partner organisation with whom we collaborate;
  3.  Re-commenced weekly groups walks with a bang in June, attracting between 50 – 100 people per weekly walk. Managing these, with leaders and sweepers, were a challenge but they prepared us for what followed and gave us the nucleus of leaders for when Covid-19 proverbial hit the fan again.
  4. Re-0rganised in eight groups of 10 people each (maximum 80 people) with 8 different routes each Wednesday between July until October, following strict Covid-19 protocol.  Despite it being summer the concurrence was very high. People were committed. We managed this thanks to the commitment of the leaders that helped in the planning and led small groups every week.
  5. Continued to provide route advice when the groups of 10 had to be disbanded (6-person limit imposed).

We are encouraged by the fact that people have continued to exercise in fresh air in the company of others and this has proven to be therapeutic during these times of increased stress.

In this respect, XirCammini continues to reiterate that it is not an exclusive group. On the contrary, XirCammini has proven to be a movement urging individuals to walk (whether alone, with us or with others) and also urging others to start leading walks.

Something that really shone through 2020 is a spirit of positivity and altruism.

 Your Generosity: Our Greatest Achievement in 2020

Although the above required planning, effort and commitment, our greatest achievement in 2020 was harnessing the generosity of XirCammini members and friends over the last few weeks.

For this I wish to thank John Darmanin and John Chircop for driving the ‘Lend a Helping Hand’ Initiative and for the Committee’s counsel. But mostly I wish to thank all of you who donated freely towards this worthy cause, including also the volunteers who helped in each of the collection points and in delivering the goods to the inner-harbour parish. 

When grace flourishes it does not rain; it pours. Not only did we fill the parish office but also most of the stairwell of the office. I personally fought back tears when we delivered the goodies, overwhelmed by your generosity.

.. and it does not stop there. Gifts keep on coming in. A pharmacist calling to deliver more boxes, a baby products/clothing firm filling 2 of our cars with an assortment of items as we ponder who best to donate to.

The words, “Thank you” are a very poor vehicle to express the gratitude welling up within.

2021: .. the journey continues

When measures relax again we hope to re-introduce the weekly walks as well as roll out an itinerary for overseas trekking, air-travel permitting. For example, we are keen to walk the Tochar Phadriag for the feast of St. Patrick or trek the Cork Peninsula to Gougane Barra over the Easter Recess and undertake Caminos in Spain and more Celtic Caminos after that. But it all depends on how the situation vis-à-vis, vaccination, air travel and people’s perceptions continue to unfold.

Famous last words: It’s never about the numbers or the destination. It’s all about the experience of the journey. Keep walking | keep smiling | keep safe.