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Pilgrims on President’s Trip Hike The Way Of St. James

Pilgrims have been walking the Camino de Santiago, or Way of St. James, for centuries, following the many paths to Santiago de Compostela and the tomb of St. James. Dr. Richard Ludwick, president of UST, and his wife, Melynda, traveled this pilgrimage with a group of 27 this summer. The pilgrimage began at the most popular Camino starting pointing of Sarria, Spain.

“Melynda and I wanted to walk the Camino de Santiago with a group,” Dr. Ludwick said. “We anticipated it to be a spiritual and community building adventure.”

The Very Rev. Kevin J. Storey, CSB, served as the spiritual guide. Fr. Storey celebrated Mass along the pilgrim’s route.

“For me the most memorable parts of the pilgrimage were when you felt emotion,” Dr. Ludwick said. “On this trip it is when we came together as a faith group. The sense of connectedness or oneness with others is very powerful. It is like the community of the Holy Trinity, three persons but one God, that works in separate ways.”

To receive their Compostela pilgrim certificate, the St. Thomas pilgrims had to complete at least the last 100 kilometers of the Camino route. The group celebrated their victory with their certificates at the last group dinner.

“The Camino was a pilgrimage filled with inspiration. Some of that inspiration was natural – the stunning beauty of fields, flowers, mountains and animals. Other times that inspiration was human – witnessing Richard Ludwick bounding up and down rocky trails, as those of us fully-sighted moved more tentatively or observing a pilgrim finishing the day much later than everyone else. Overall, the pilgrimage was a blessed experience for me and the others as we became a community of friends.”

Fr. Kevin Storey, CSB

Steve Toomey ’71, with his wife, Mills“The Camino walk was difficult, strenuous and exhausting, but we loved our fellow pilgrims. A true highlight was meeting our angel – in human form – who, out of nowhere, walked and encouraged us both on multiple days. She kept us going one foot after the other. Special thanks to Cindy Viaud and Fr. Storey…. Buen Camino.”


Steve Toomey ’71
Pictured with his wife, Mills

Sandra O’Donnell“The most memorable experiences were probably the people, including Fr. Kevin, and having the time to walk and talk – not just with our group but others we met in the pilgrimage. I feel like God had a lot to do with who we were next to as walking buddies.”

Sandra O’Donnell


“Fr. Storey’s homilies were wonderful. I loved how he wove little things that happened on the walk that day with the Mass readings and gave us a totally new take on both.” 

Pat O’Donnell ’76

Elda Garcia Ditta ’81, MACEL ’19“A buen camino does not end at the shrine in Santiago. It is only the beginning. If done well, you move forward and let go of what no longer serves you. Your heart is transformed. You return home a better self because of the prayers and promises you made to God, so that you can serve Him in the most fulfilling way. That is, the Good Way.”

Elda Garcia Ditta ’81, MACEL ’19


Vanessa Manohar“I must thank my traveling buddies for their kindnesses and their photos; the physician from Monterrey who so gently ministered to my feet on the path; Father Kevin who shepherded us all; and my husband who held back most days to accompany me and offered his hands to balance me, his shoulders to lean on and his words of guidance to see me through. And most of all I am humbled by my Creator who put me on this path, who allowed me to see my world and gave me the luxury of time to ponder life’s little mysteries and joys. I did it. Eyes wide open.”

Vanessa Manohar

About the Author — Sandra Soliz, MLA '01 Soliz

AvatarSandra Soliz, director of Communications for University of St. Thomas, has served the University for 20 years in Marketing Communications Department. In her position, she handles media relations and serves as the editor of the Encounter Magazine.

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