Alexandria native and former rector of The Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Fr. Ryan Humphries, spoke to a group of around 25 former parishioners and interested community members Tuesday, Feb 26th at the St. Anthony of Pauda church hall in Natchitoches. The theme of his talk was “Pilgrimage and the Unexpected: The Spiritual Life, Journey as Metaphor and the Value of Docility to the Holy Spirit.”
The presentation was about his journey throughout Europe from August through October of 2018. He hiked 741 kilometers of Spain’s 1,500 kilometer Camino de Santiago a trail that connects a series of towns and some of Europe’s oldest churches. He also traveled through Scotland, France Italy, Belgium and Poland. While the talk spoke of the place visited, it was more than a travelogue. Fr. Humphries also spoke of the effect some of the places had on him, his visit to Auschwitz in particular was profoundly moving as was seeing the cassock Pope John Paul II was wearing on the day of his near assassination.
The main point of the talk was not of the travel, but of the spiritual lessons gained. Nothing really went according to plan. At first, physical injuries derailed his plans to complete the Camino de Santiago and nearly put an end to the trip. As the situation changed and developed, he realized more and more that he ultimately was not in control. This led to an openness “traveling out of my comfort zone-the Lord will use that.” He spoke of the principle of “Docility-Lord if you make clear to me what I need to do, I’ll do it” and how that applies to our everyday lives no matter what one’s role in the Church.
Fr. Humphries’ talk was filled with self depreciating humor, a wide ranging exploration of the cuisines of Europe and of the brewmaster’s art, as well as a serious look into a life changing pilgrimage.