ROMERO: Welcoming young adults as a pilgrim host

June 14, 2022

I recently participated in the Young Adult and Campus Ministry Retreat held at the Cameron Retreat Center in mid-May.

One of our speakers, Robert Choiniere, a theology professor from Fordham University, used his experience and journey on the Camino de Santiago to describe the Church as home while on a journey. Of all the things he talked about, the term “pilgrim host” stood out to me.

The pilgrim hosts are people who live in the cities where the pilgrims pass as they walk. They are hosts and welcome people with joy, giving them what they need to continue to their next stop. The hosts are known for washing the feet of those pilgrims, a pure act of service. Being a host and welcoming everyone along the way is something that really sounds easy, but it is not.

This term made me reflect on the times that I have had the opportunity to be that pilgrim host for people who have sought help. I started to reflect and think of what would happen if we all really welcome others with joy. Taking on the role of being a host does not only mean welcoming but also taking care of that person for the time they are visiting, making them feel at home. With that same spirit, we must act in our spiritual home.

It is essential to give of ourselves to those who are present in our Church. Being a pilgrim host to our young adults is not only important but an act of Christianity. As disciples, we have the mission of evangelization that was given to us by Christ. We must be true to those words and be ambassadors of our Lord.

The pilgrim hosts’ tasks of accompanying, equipping, preparing and sending forth stand out to me. These tasks can be implemented as actions to guide those we minister to regardless of their different life journeys.

In the short time I have served as associate director, I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful young adults, and my hope is to be a pilgrim host with all those I encounter. Just recently, we held the Charis retreat, where almost 50 young adults were able to reconnect with their faith. To know that I had something to do with their spiritual growth fills my heart. On this three-day retreat, I know I was able to accompany them to grow closer to Christ. I pray to be that pilgrim host in their lives and look forward to all our Lord has in store.

I am so hopeful for our next Apostles on Mission program in the fall will be a great example of accompaniment. The participants will be paired with mentors who will guide them to discern an evangelization plan. This is the work of the pilgrim host as they accompany the young adults.

In my own life, I would not be the person I am today without the example of so many who have been with me on my journey. One of those examples in my life was my confirmation sponsor, Amanda Murillo, who guided me through many years of uncertainty. Now, as a young adult, despite the distance, she continues to be a pilgrim host in my life and keeps up with me and my spiritual growth.

I’ve learned that taking upon the role of a pilgrim host is so important for our Church. To continue that spirit of a pilgrim host, we must be open to give all that we have been entrusted with: To be true disciples of Christ and walk the Camino of those who come across our path. 

Thalía Romero serves as an associate director for the Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry.