A pilgrimage is an outward journey that marks an inward one. It’s about seeing places made holy by the devotion of our forebears, yes. But it’s about much more than that. It’s about our own inward journey to the heart, where we find Christ and our own truest self.

For generations, people have walked the pilgrim path to give thanks for or to seek healing, to demonstrate penitence, or to mark some major shift in their lives. Traditionally, these pilgrims have walked, and even in our day of air transportation, coaches, and trains, I still think that walking is an essential element of pilgrimage. A coach doesn’t engage the body the way that the feel of the cool air on one’s cheeks or the cobblestones or mud under one’s feet does. The sight of one’s eyes through a window is nothing to the knowledge of the nose and the fingertips and the lips. Pilgrimage is an effort, a demonstration of one’s mettle on the spiritual path, and a way of deepening and confirming devotion to the path.

Below you’ll see information on upcoming pilgrimages I’ll be leading. To be added to our e-mail update list for either pilgrimage, please fill out the form below.



In the Footsteps of St. Thomas: The Christian Heritage of Southern India

January 2019

This trip is currently full. To add yourself to the wait list, please e-mail Br. Aidan. We will likely offer this trip again. To find out when we do, please add yourself to the information list via the form above.


Basic Information

Dates: January 14 – January 27, 2019

Cost: $3,500

Leaders: The Reverend Matthew Wright and Br. Aidan Owen, OHC

Limited to ten participants



14 days, including travel: January 14 – January 27, 2019

Day 1 (1/14): Fly to Chennai

Day 2 (1/15): Chennai

Day 3 (1/16): Chennai

Day 4 (1/17): Shantivanam

Day 5 (1/18): Shantivanam

Day 6 (1/19): Shantivanam

Day 7 (1/20): Shantivanam

Day 8 (1/21): Pondicherry

Day 9 (1/22): Pondicherry

Day 10 (1/23): Ramana Ashram

Day 11 (1/24): Ramana Ashram

Day 12 (1/25): Ramana Ashram

Day 13 (1/26): Ramana Ashram

Day 14 (1/27): Return flight to NYC


The cost of the trip is $3,500 per person, which will include airfare from New York to Chennai, accommodation, transportation between sights, and the leadership and guidance of Matthew and Aidan. All meals at the ashrams and breakfast and supper while in Chennai and Pondicherry are also included in the cost of the trip. There will be side trips available while at Pondicherry, and possibly while at the ashrams. Those trips, including food, temple entrance, and transportation are not included in the cost of the trip. However, given the strength of the American dollar, those trips should not be expensive. And, they are entirely optional.

Given that we are staying almost exclusively in ashrams is no single supplement for this trip. We will do our best to accommodate preferences for single/double rooms at the hotels in Chennai and Pondicherry.


Because of the length of the flight and the language differences, we will need to fly altogether as one group from New York to Chennai. This means that if you’re coming from outside of the New York area, you’ll need to make your own plans to get from your home to JFK airport. For those who would like, you may arrange to stay at the monastery the night before we depart. Please let me know if you’d like to do this.

We also ask that anyone who wants to extend their stay in India do so at the end of the trip rather than the beginning.


We will mostly be staying in ashrams, which have very basic accommodations. Please do not expect Western-style lodging, even of the simple style you might see in a monastery here. After Matthew and I do our trial run of the trip, we’ll have more specific information about the accommodations, but please keep in mind that they will be very very simple. In Chennai and Pondicherry, we’ll stay in guesthouses or hotels, which will offer a more “elegant” experience.

It’s our hope that we will be able to stay at the ashrams. This will depend on our group size and the capacity of the ashrams. While in Chennai or Pondicherry we’ll stay in mid-range hotels. Be aware, though, that ashram accommodation is not Western-style and can include, essentially, a hut with a simple bed and no climate control. We’re not going on this pilgrimage to stay in fancy places, but to experience the life of the ashrams.

Ethos of the Trip

This trip is intended to be a contemplative immersion, much closer to a retreat on wheels than to a vacation. As such, our accommodations will be simple, as will our meals. While at the ashrams, we’ll participate as fully as we can in the life of the community, which includes communal prayer, meditation, Eucharist, and perhaps even work. We hope to have retreat talks with some of the monks and swamis, and Matthew and I will also give some teaching. There will be some time for sightseeing, but that will not be our priority. Essentially, think quality over quantity of experience. We’re looking to immerse ourselves in the spirituality of these places, to take that feel into our bodies, rather than to get in as much as we can.

To add yourself to our e-mail update list, please fill out the contact form at the top of this page.





Walking the Celtic Way: A Contemplative Pilgrimage with St. Columba, St. Aidan, and St. Cuthbert

May 2020



16 days, including travel: 18 May – 2 June 2020

(Please note that these dates are not set in stone, and may move as much as a week in either direction, based on final availability of the retreat facilities. Most facilities will only accept reservations one year in advance, and I will book as early as I am able to confirm the dates of the trip.)

The trip is limited to ten pilgrims.

Day 1: Fly to Glasgow (or potentially Edinburgh); travel to Oban.

Day 2: Oban to Iona, begin retreat time on Iona.

Day 3: Iona.

Day 4: Iona.

Day 5: Travel from Iona to Melrose to begin St. Cuthbert’s Way.

Day 6: Walking 6 miles—Melrose to St. Boswells (St. Cuthbert’s Way).

Day 7: Walking 9 miles—St. Boswells to Jedburgh (St. Cuthbert’s Way).

Day 8: Walking 15 miles—Jedburgh to Kirk Yetholm (St. Cuthbert’s Way).

Day 9: Walking 13 miles—Kirk Yetholm to Wooler (St. Cuthbert’s Way).

Day 10: Walking 11.5 miles—Wooler to Fenwick (St. Cuthbert’s Way).

Day 11: Walking 5.5 miles—Wooler to Holy Isle (St. Cuthbert’s Way).

Day 12: Holy Isle.

Day 13: Holy Isle.

Day 14: Travel from Holy Isle to Durham.

Day 15: Durham.

Day 16: Depart for home.


The cost of the trip will be $4,100 per person, which will include accommodation, breakfast, supper, transportation during the trip, and retreat planning and guidance. That cost does not include your airfare or lunches during the walk on St. Cuthbert’s Way. Lunches will likely be included as a part of the cost of our stays on Iona and Holy Isle. They may also be included on St. Cuthbert’s Way, though I’m still working out that detail.

For those who would like a single room throughout the trip, that is an option. The single supplement is currently priced at $1200. Should the cost of a single room be less, we will refund the difference.


I’ve chosen not to include the cost of airfare in the trip for a number of reasons. To begin with, it’s hard to judge, and, therefore, to budget what airfare will be two years from now. At the moment, a roundtrip ticket from New York to Glasgow is $600. That’s excellent, and I hope we’re so fortunate, but we may not be. Additionally, because we’re such a small group, it will make travel arrangements much easier for all of us if those who wish either to arrive early or to leave late so that they can get more time in the UK could make their own plans. Closer to the departure for the trip, I’ll offer to arrange a group booking for those who plan to arrive and leave with the group.

Sign-ups, Wait List, and Payments

To sign up for the trip, please e-mail Br. Aidan:

  1. E-mail me to let me know you’d like to sign up.
  2. Await my confirmation that you’re on my list.
  3. Send a ­non-refundable deposit of $500. If you’re mailing a check, please make it payable to Holy Cross Monastery and send it to my attention (Aidan Owen), P.O. Box 99, West Park, NY 12493. You may prefer to make a credit card payment. You can do that here. Please make sure to put in the memo line “deposit for Celtic Pilgrimage 2020.”

Sign-ups are on a first-come, first-served basis.

I’ll ask for payments from you in four installments: one in 2018, two in 2019, and one in 2020. The first will be due July 1, 2018. The second January 1, 2019. The third July 1, 2019, and the fourth January 1, 2020. If you’d like to make payments on another schedule, please let me know. Likewise, you’re welcome to pay your remaining balance at any point. Until May of 2019 (a year before the trip), you’ll be able to get your full money back, minus the deposit, should you need to cancel. After May of 2019, should you need to cancel, we’ll refund whatever portion of your payments we’re able to recoup from taking on someone in your place.


We’ll stay, as much as possible, in retreat style accommodations or mid-range hotels. Along St. Cuthbert’s Way, we’ll be split among a few B&Bs. Accommodation will be simple.


Because we’ll be a small group, we’ll take public transportation from the Glasgow or Edinburgh airport to Iona, from Iona to Melrose, and from Lindisfarne to Durham. On St. Cuthbert’s Way, we’ll use what my Southern grandmother called “shank’s mare,” which means we’ll walk.

Ethos of the Trip

This trip is intended to be a contemplative immersion, much closer to a retreat than to a vacation. As such, our accommodations will be simple, as will our meals. While on Iona and Lindisfarne, we’ll remain in silence other than for worship, retreat talks, and meals. Our six-day walk of St. Cuthbert’s Way will be quiet to allow for prayerful walking, though not strictly silent. We’ll begin and end each day with prayer and will also have Eucharist daily. We’ll also find plenty of time for meditation. I will also give some teaching, and there will be time for sharing and processing experience. We’re looking to immerse ourselves in the spirituality of these places, to take that feel into our bodies, rather than to get in as much as we can. Because of the nature of this trip (the walking, the contemplative community we’ll be building), I can’t take more than 10 people on the trip. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do this one regularly.

St. Cuthbert’s Way

The centerpiece of this trip is the six-day walk from Melrose to Lindisfarne, which is an old pilgrim route. The reason for walking this route, rather than driving, is so that we can allow our bodies and spirits to yearn for the sanctuary and rest of our time on Holy Island, so that we can embody our journey, and so that we join the route that pilgrims have taken for hundreds of years. We’ll also have the opportunity to breathe the clean air and see the gorgeous scenery. That being said, the walk will not be easy, nor is it intended to be. The whole walk is 62 miles long, ranging from 5.5 miles on the last day to 15 miles on the longest day. We’ll walk regardless of weather. We will hire a baggage service to take our suitcases from one stop to the next while we take shank’s mare. The baggage service does have space in the van for one or two passengers, should someone really need a day off from walking. You can find out more information about St. Cuthbert’s Way here: http://www.stcuthbertsway.info/long-distance-route/suggested-itineraries/

To add yourself to our e-mail update list, please fill out the contact form at the top of this page.