Scotland: Pilgrim with a purpose

Calum MacFarlane-Barrow may be 83 years old but this passionate hill climber is not ready to hang up his walking boots just yet. On 17 September he will combines his love of walking, his love of pilgrimage and his love for Craig Lodge and set out on a 60 mile walk from the village of Dalmally in Argyll to the island of Iona.

The walk has several purposes; to raise money for a charity, to raise the profile of this route he has called the St Conan's Way and to make a pilgrimage in this jubilee Year of Mercy.

The building, Craig Lodge, has had many owners and uses in its time but for the last 26 years it has been a 'house of prayer' or 'retreat centre'. Each day it opens its doors to people looking for a break from their daily grind to recharge spiritual batteries.

"Craig Lodge wasn't always a prayer house when Mary Anne and I bought it in 1977 we ran it as a guest house. It was only after the family went on pilgrimage to Medjugorje that we felt called by God to do something different and that led to turning it into a place of retreat and to invite young people to form a community here."

It has been an oasis of peace for hundreds of people over the years with many coming so regularly they regard it as their second home.

Organising and leading pilgrimages has remained an important part of life at Craig Lodge and that has always included visits to the beautiful island of Iona; a place that has attracted pilgrims from around the world through the centuries. Calum has been working to establish a walking route that links Craig Lodge and Iona called St Conan's Pilgrim Way. This could form part of a bigger project currently underway to create a walking route linking St Andrews on the east coast to Iona in the west that has been dubbed the 'Caledonian Camino'.

"Making a pilgrimage is bit like making a walking retreat. It's a great way of clearing the cobwebs away and giving yourself time to think and pray while walking through our beautiful landscapes. I recommend it!"

Pope Francis has suggested that making a pilgrimage, and carrying out works of mercy while doing so, is one way of entering into this special Jubilee Year of Mercy. As Calum walks along he intends to pray for all those have supported him and, invites anyone who wishes to, to send in their prayer intentions to him. He will be asking for the special intercession of St Columba throughout.

"Calum is Gaelic for Columba so he has always been one of my favourite saints and I am delighted to take up the challenge of this pilgrimage to the island he made famous through his adventures and his life of prayer".

You can email your prayer requests to [email protected]

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Tags: Calum MacFarlane Barrow, Craig Lodge, Iona

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