Welcome to the Pilgrimage of Hope


It is often the case that what we see is shaped by the ways we see. The Pilgrimage of Hope has developed a way of seeing that has enabled young people and adults from around Australia to embrace a deeper way to live – in relation to themselves, to others and in solidarity with the poor. It grounds this understanding in lived experience by inviting people to engage in service work. An old Chinese proverb says: ‘Tell me and I may forget. Show me and I may remember. But involve me and I will understand’.

Fr James, who founded the Pilgrimage of Hope, believes that it is through reflecting on direct experience that we are able to learn what it means to be truly human. This is an 'education of the heart'. He believes there is a great yearning among young people and adults for a spiritual experience that is sustaining: “They need something they can feel, something that will draw from them some commitment. They want to connect with the core aspects of a meaningful life – faith, hope and love”.

The Benedictine lifestyle gives a distinctive shape and direction to the Pilgrimage of Hope. The Rule of St Benedict that lays out the lifestyle, was written in the sixth century. Since then it has provided a practical and spiritual framework for countless thousands of people in every age and across social and cultural boundaries. There is certainly a growing interest in its possibilities for living a rich, full and meaningful life in today’s chaotic world. Its rhythms provide an excellent guide for the purposes and methods of the Pilgrimage of Hope. The balances of humble service and reflection on daily experience can become the context for a journey of the whole person within an authentic caring community.

The next pilgrimage to India is currently being planned for January 2016.
If you are interested in more information, please email – brjamesosb@gmail.com


The Pilgrimage of Hope arose from the vision of Fr James, a Priest and an Oblate of St Mark’s Abbey, Camperdown. Fr James is the Coordinator of the Pilgrimage of Hope program. Two Patrons support the vision by providing guidance and spiritual oversight. One is Archbishop Henry D’Souza (Archbishop Emeritus of Kolkata, India), the other the Abbot of St Mark’s Abbey, Rt Rev. Michael King OSB.

Fr James has extensive experience working with young people. He has led service-based pilgrimages to Fiji, India, Nepal, Bali, Central Australia and Perth, each being supported by a team of professionals and volunteers, committed to the ethos of the Pilgrimage Some of these professionals and volunteers are based in Australia and some in each of the countries that host the pilgrimages. This ethos is inspired by Mother Teresa’s open invitation to Fr James to bring young people to Kolkata to serve alongside the Missionaries of Charity Sisters in their ministry to the marginalised people of Kolkata. Mother Teresa’s life and deep spirituality inspired Fr James to begin The Pilgrimage of Hope that has now been in operation for 15 years.

Archbishop D’Souza believes that the Pilgrimage of Hope ‘is God’s special expression of His love towards the poor’ bringing ‘hope to the poor’ and ‘transformation to the lives of so many young people who travelled to India and other parts of the world’. The Archbishop knew Mother Teresa of Kolkata very well and endorses the influence on the Pilgrimage of Hope of her humble spiritual and practical vocation ‘to serve Jesus in the ”poorest of the poor”.

Abbot Michael has the immediate guardianship of the spirituality of the Pilgrimage of Hope. He believes that Fr James and his team of dedicated co-workers have brought about a new understanding of charity, one that transcends every boundary of race, colour, social status and nationality. It is the essence of St Benedict’s teaching that we must, like Christ, put our own selves second in order to be free to serve God in the needy. 


The mission of the Pilgrimage of Hope is:

  • To be the living hands of Jesus in each of the communities where we are invited to serve and to show God’s unconditional love for all with whom we come in contact.
  • To build relationships of mutual trust, enabling us to serve with humility and compassion.
  • To foster an inner journey of discovery – of ourselves, our place in the world and our relationship with God.

The core principles that underpin the mission include the following:

The Pilgrimage of Hope is a journey of discovery, rooted in the Gospels, encouraging awareness through immersion in service and reflection.
By moving outside our comfort zone and giving of ourselves in humble and meaningful service, we discover that it is in giving that we receive.

Central to the Pilgrimage of Hope is the desire to follow the teachings of Jesus and the example of Mother Teresa – ‘giving until it hurts’ and ‘doing small things with great love’.

It is through developing personal gifts and limitations in service with others in the community, that people will understand true humility in the pattern of Mother Teresa

The Pilgrimage of Hope encourages relationships based on attentive non-judgmental listening and the preferential priority of the needs of others. It is through relationships like this that people develop positive attitudes (thoughts, feelings and actions) towards others within and beyond their own social and cultural boundaries. 


A pilgrimage is many things, but most of all it is a journey of discovery. It is a journey to a specific place – which may be far away or near, but it is also a journey inwards. This journey inwards allows us to make great discoveries about what makes us who we are, what it is that informs our choices and the way we live in the world.

The pilgrimage journey is shared and enriched by becoming part of a close- knit community, formed by serving together and caring for one another. By moving outside personal comfort zones and learning to accept others, the Pilgrimage community begins to form under the direction of experienced staff. Each pilgrim brings many personal gifts that complement those of others. These are honoured and celebrated during the Pilgrimage. Likewise, all have things to learn about themselves, qualities that may be undeveloped, or blind spots that need to be faced with gentle support. That is part of being in community.
Each pilgrim’s journey is unique and aspects of personal formation continue long after people return home. It calls on pilgrims to travel lightly and often involves ‘letting go’ in order to discover.
Pilgrims support and encourage one another and are gently guided by times of reflection and sharing in pastoral groups. A pilgrimage will plant seeds within each person, seeds that will grow and mature over the rest of life.


A typical day begins with participation in the worship of the host community, such as the Missionary of Charity.
Involvement in humble service work of various kinds takes up most of the daylight hours. This service work is always age appropriate for those involved. These vary in their degree of challenge and Pilgrims are invited to discuss these openly with staff.
Later in the day there is opportunity for personal reflection and journaling, community prayer and discussion.
There are opportunities also for Pilgrims to engage with local communities and participate in cultural experiences that will deepen understanding of the society in which the Pilgrimage is located.

Please visit the Pilgrimage of Hope Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PilgrimageOfHope