The Schuch family, who are long-time members of the St Thomas More College (STMC) community, recently walked the 12-day, 264-kilometre Portugal leg of the Camino De Santiago pilgrimage.
Mrs Sue Schuch, an STMC Teacher Aide, undertook the walk with her husband, Mr Laurie Schuch and their daughter, Ms Stephanie Schuch, a Class of 2007 STMC graduate.
Ms Schuch, who has now completed the spiritual journey three times, acted as the family’s unofficial tour guide and English-Spanish translator to help them complete their journey.
The Camino (or the Way) to Santiago is a centuries-old pilgrimage to the cathedral where, tradition has it, the remains of Saint James the Great are enshrined.
And as is a pilgrimage, the Schuch family found that the journey was more about stopping than going. They stopped their lives and stepped out of their comfort zones to experience a world far removed from their own. Although taking the journey together, they each walked their own path, reflecting on many parallels the pilgrimage represents in their own lives.
Mrs Schuch reflected on her time away from every day life.
“The walk really made you remember where you’ve come from,” Mrs Schuch said. “Just how simple life used to be, and we’ve lost a lot of that.”
“When we completed the journey, it was amazing to feel that we actually did it.
“When you got there [to Santiago] it felt like you could do anything that you set your mind to.
“You can get through problems in life that come your way.”
When asked about his reflections of the Camino, Mr Schuch talked about watching other pilgrims arriving.
“The best time was watching other pilgrims arrive [in Santiago] and seeing the expressions on their faces,” Mr Schuch said.
“The relief and joy, and we knew what they were feeling because we had done it as well.”
It is this connection with other pilgrims that many travellers share as a long-lasting memory of the Camino. A realisation that although we are all on our own life journeys, we can get there if we keep going, keep persevering, and keep challenging ourselves.
Ms Schuch has completed the Camino three times; the first time as a solo journey, the second time with friends, and this third time with her parents. Each trek has presented different challenges and experiences, however the ‘magic’ of the Camino stays the same.
“The walk has taught me to enjoy the journey and not just the destination,” Ms Schuch said. “It also makes you realise what you can live with and without, and at the same time, what you are capable of.”
“You start off saying ‘Buen Camino’ meaning ‘good way’ to strangers, and by the end of the pilgrimage, you’ve made lifelong friends with inspirational and interesting people from all walks of life,” Ms Schuch concluded.
Contemplating the journey and how it can resonate with students at the college, Mrs Schuch imparted that: “Nothing is as hard as you think it is, trust in yourself – there is light at the end of the tunnel.”