The 2016 Silver Censer Awards

Since time immemorial (or since Fordham’s first Camino), the Silver Censer Awards have capped off the Fordham Pilgrims’ Experience. A mixture of traditional and new awards, every peregrino and peregrina receives a token of appreciation from the staff, together with their very own nickname. This year, the Silver Censer Awards were held at El Gato Negro and emceed by our chaperones, Louisa and Rachel. The complete list of winners is below:

Traditional Awards

The Coco Chanel Award for the Most Fashionable Pilgrim – Katherine

The Pathfinder Award for Blazing a Trail (and in this particular case, for getting lost in a pasture, too) – Dan Salerno

The Florence Nightingale Award for Compassionate Blister Care – Francis

The Little Miss Sunshine Award for Irrepressible Cheer – Delaney

The Moonbeam Award for Quiet but Irreplaceable Positivity – Jennifer

The Energizer Bunny Award for Absolutely Incredible Energy – Kara

New Awards

The Dora the Explorer Award for Fearless Hiking and Great Gear – Dan Sullivan

The Boots Award for Sticking with Dora and Hiking in Seemingly Impractical Footwear – Connor

The Disney Princess Award for Charming Spanish Wildlife – Sarah

The Jason and the Argonaut Award for Trekking through Uncharted Territory – Alexa and Katrine

The Ansel Adams Award for Outstanding Photography – Travis

The Imperator Furiosa Award for Fierce Domination of the Trail – Jacqueline

The Lemony Snicket Award for Suffering (and Overcoming!) a Series of Unforunate Events – Allie

The Unsinkable Molly Brown Award for Sailing through Adversity – Shandley

The Linneus Award for Attention to Spanish Ecology – Allison

The Artemis Award for Respecting Nature in All Forms and Possessing a Warrior Spirit – Tiffany

The Georgia O’Keefe Award for Artistic Achievement- Hania

The Bear Grylls Award for Wilderness Preparation (and for  being able to find a pub, even when dropped in the middle of nowhere) – Owen

The Scarlett O’Hara Award for Southern Elegance even in Decidedly Inelegant Circumstances – Mary

The Anthony Bourdain Award for Culinary Curiosity – Gavin

The King of Spain Award for Charming a Nation – Ian

And to our absolutely irreplaceable staff:

The Alcott Award for Embodying the Spirit of Jo – Louisa

The Metamorphosis Award for Turning from Human to Mama Bear and Back Again – Rachel

For offering emotional and physical succor, for her deep understanding of Franciscan spirituality and for being basically the best, to the newly-minted Doctor Egler, the Beloved Friaress Award.

For completing his fifth Camino, for carrying a pack the size of a small child, for getting every Fordham student in his groups to Santiago without harm and, above all, for being the best pilgrim on the Way, to Dr. Myers, the Peregrinissimo Award.



many ways, one goal

From the Bronx, New York City, and all over the country, students and faculty are converging today in León, Castile, Spain, for Fordham’s trek along the Camino de Santiago to the shrine in Santiago de Compostela. We will begin walking in Spain on Thursday, 26 May, but for everyone the pilgrimage has begun already, in hikes along the Hudson and across the Brooklyn Bridge, in occasional classes, and in our individual journeys. Louisa Foroughi and Rachel Podd, our excellent junior colleagues, spent an exhilarating weekend in Burgos and have wandered with me to Leon. Fresh from commencement and receiving her well -earned doctorate from Fordham’s Graduate School of Religion, DOCTOR Alexandria Egler has now arrived as well.

For me, this Camino started nearly a year ago, with the end of our last trip to Spain and the conviction that this course represents a good opportunity for students and faculty alike. I mark the actual beginning, though, neither in New York nor Spain, but in Munich, Germany. Strange as that seems, the Way of St. James (Jakosbsweg) goes through Germany and Munich’s St. James Square (Sankt Jakobs Platz). In that square, the city and the Jewish community of Munich in 2006 dedicated the new synagogue Ohel Jakob (Jakob’s Tent) to replace the temple deliberately destroyed in the Pogrom of November 9, 1938, known to some as “the Night of Broken Glass” (Kristallnacht). As feeble as it might seem after such devastation, the dedication represented an attempt both to remember and somehow to restore the vibrant Jewish community in the city.



The synagogue stands now in the center of the square and next to the Catholic Church of St. James (Sankt Jakob), also rebuilt after being destroyed by American and British bombs in World War II. The two buildings remind us of our good fortune—our luck–in being able to choose, freely, to walk along the Way. For much of human history, peoples have been forced to wander and migrate—to undertake forced pilgrimages to unknown lands and unwanted fates. Whether of Africans ripped from their homes and shipped across the Atlantic in the seventeenth century, or Jews hauled in train cars to work and death camps in the twentieth, migration and wandering have been a common part of human experience and misery.

The photograph of Ohel Jakob reminds us of that experience. Elsewhere in Munich, there is a statue dedicated to another forced pilgrimage—the prisoners of Dachau, scattered with the camp’s closing in the last days of the war in 1945, found their way together back to a battered and blasted city.


Today, a new forced migration has brought wave upon wave of unwilling pilgrims to Europe, to Germany, and yes, to Munich, where their final reception, though a credit to the city at least for now, remains uncertain.


students marching 2015

For us, meeting in Spain, the burden we FREELY CHOOSE is not merely the packs on our shoulders. It is also the burden of remembering and acknowledging our common experience, in the tenth century as well as in the twenty-first. And my three wonderful colleagues and I hope we will recognize that the true Way is not a gravel road, but compassion, and the goal is not a church of brick and mortar, but charity.

Ich bin dann mal weg—I’m off!

Buen Camino,




As in past years, Fordham University’s intrepid students are once again undertaking the arduous but exhilarating adventure of Walking the Way–the ancient Camino de Santiago across the north of Spain, 320 kilometers from Leon in Castile to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. A diverse group of 21 students will begin the trek from Leon on May 26, hoping to reach Santiago by June 8.

camino walk 28 februaryIn this blog, peregrinos will trace our path and share both the agonies and the ecstasies of the experience. Along the way, we will also provide a guide for students and others to walk the Camino with confidence while understanding its historical, social, and religious significance.

As one of our leaders, Dr. Alexandria Egler, has reminded us again and again, the Camino begins, not in Spain, but with the first step outside our doors and our comfortable homes.
So this year, we began on February 28 with a 9 mile hike down the West Side of Manhattan along the Hudson, through the High Line, on past the Battery, and finally stopping only when the lure of soup dumplings in Chinatown was too great to resist. We learned the first great lesson of the Camino–food tastes better after a 9 mile walk.

camino walk chinatown