May Saint Dominic from his birthplace intercede for you. May he fill you with his love of God his devotion to the Holy church and his zeal for souls. And may he lead your feet on ways of Peace.
Jubilee Trip to St. Dominic's Country 2006
Sunday October 22nd
The business of the time of preparation kept me from doing much in the way of anticipation. In the back of my mind of course was the excitement of the upcoming pilgrimage. But I had to keep wondering what might happen to cancel everything! I arrived at Newark early of course, but happily saw Sr. Maureen in about 30 minutes. We checked in at a kiosk without difficulty and went on our way via security to relax and meet Father at the gate. Having sufficient time we decided to sit down for a civilized light supper. Father found us at the NJ DINER! - -- after all we needed food for the journey! So our pilgrimage leader was with us and we proceeded to the gate for a short wait. Waiting was never a trial on this trip as the company was amiable and the environment always interesting. When the plane left the ground, I was truly excited, knowing that we were indeed on the pilgrimage that I had hoped for — for several years now. Before departing, Father prayed for our spiritually fruitful trip. We settled into a 7-hour trip with a bit of napping. Flying into Madrid I vaguely recall the arid countryside and overcast skies. The plane touched down early.... thus began our 1st day of our pilgrimage
Day #1 Monday October 23 rd
We arrived in Madrid in 9:35 AM.
After finding our baggage, changing money and locating the rental car Father, began his 2 week job of heroic chauffeuring with different cars, stick shift though city streets, tiny streets, and country roads, 7 point turns in the hills of Sienna, and various terrain. We found our way out of Madrid quite fast and headed due north. The countryside was dry yet there was a light rain falling. The vegetation didn't look like it would support much in the way of crops, perhaps sheep. I was very much disappointed not to see herds of sheep in Spain. We saw only one herd. Maybe they don't want the wool anymore, but the cold and dampness in northern Spain would make me think that they would appreciate it. It took us about 2 hours to reach the ancient village of Caleruega. Father was surprised by the development of the road and improvements of homes in the area since he had been there last. We found the Convento de Santo Domingo easily. At present this is a house of spirituality, acting a retreat and conference center. Previously it was a novitiate and there were 90 novices. Sadly it is empty of novices. There are about 8 Friars present. Three Sisters from Columbia care for guests and then there is the Community of Cloistered Dominican Nuns next door. Father said that the Province of Spain has become so secular, and there are few vocations. They need another Dominic! With heavy eyes we had dinner at 2 PM , then took a serious nap. We then had Mass in the Chapel of Blessed Jane. Father said that it was appropriate that we started here, beginning with Jane. The place was SO quiet — blissfully so. We meandered around to the large Chapel with stained glass windows of the 9 ways of prayer. The hallways were lined with treasures from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Beautiful hand painted missals, liturgical items, vestments etc. Yet the novitiate is empty, it gives one an empty feeling.
Interestingly the town is ancient and unspoiled by any tourism, however construction and upkeep is evident. Yet the streets were almost empty. Father said it is probably a yuppie sort of people who have found this quiet town. Perhaps they come more in the summer months. Though out Europe we saw very few children, bringing to mind the fact of the negative birth rate.
In the first week of the trip we read from pertinent sections from Vicar and Father discussed their relevance to what we were seeing. These sessions were interspersed in our daily schedule.
Sr. Maureen and I walked around the village. The cold air felt good but it was too chilly for what we were prepared for. In Spain, we used every bit of clothing that we brought. The scenery is beautiful, red soil, rocky, wide and rolling hill. We met with Father at 8:30 and he discussed how the surrounding land had helped to form Dominic. Dinner was at the impossibly late hour of 9:30 PM yet delicious.