President & CEO Deacon Jim Vargas shares his insights as he begins his journey on the Camino de Santiago.

Deacon Jim Vargas and son make their first stop on the Camino de Santiago: The Cathedral of Porto.

Today, my son, Jonathan, and I began the Camino de Santiago from the Cathedral of Porto, Portugal, heading toward the Santiago de Compostela.

We walked over 17 miles to the albergue (hostel), Mosteiro de Vairão. We met Rob from Australia who spends two weeks a year here as an attendant. He was very welcoming and gracious. For just six American dollars each, we have beds tonight. God is good. We are sharing the room with two nice chaps from Australia, Cliff and Chris.

As I walked, I reflected on the saint of the day, Kateri Tekakwitha, a Native American whose mother was Algonquin and whose father was a Mohawk Chief. At four years of age, her parents and younger brother died during a smallpox epidemic. She was left severely disfigured and half-blind.

As a result of her conversion to Christianity she was ostracized and treated as a slave. Her masters denied her food on Sundays because she refused to labor on that day of the week. Powerfully moved by God’s love for human beings, she saw the dignity of each of her people. Always in fear due to her conversion, she walked 200 miles from her home in northern New York State to Montreal, Canada where she devoted her life to caring for the disadvantaged and the suffering. At her death, witnesses said that her emaciated face changed color and became like that of a healthy child. The lines of suffering, even the pockmarks, disappeared and the touch of a smile came upon her lips.

Deacon Jim Vargas is ready to begin his journey on the Camino de Santiago.I think of the many who come to Father Joe’s Villages feeling abandoned due to circumstances in their life, wondering if anyone cares for them.

At Father Joe’s Villages, we see the potential in those we serve.

The compassionate and trained team at Father Joe’s Villages helps them to transform their lives through the varied supportive services we offer.

Tomorrow, we plan to walk 22 miles, if my back, legs, and feet hold out and the good Lord leads me. You are all in our prayers as we walk the Camino de Santiago.

Yours in God’s Service to our Neighbors in Need,

Signature of Deacon Jim of Father Joe's Villages Helping San Diego Homeless