Ken Johns, Professor, Traveller, Pilgrim
"Modern Day Pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago"
“Pilgrimage is an experience not really much like hiking, nor like tourism or sightseeing, or usual religious activity, but offers a powerful experience of both totally new terrain, and unique forms of spiritual practice.”
For the last thirty or so years a growing number of modern-day pilgrims from around the globe have walked the ancient Spanish Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James), each with his or her own reason for wanting to do so. Ken Johns of Sherbrooke, Quebec, is one such person. He and his wife Marilyn have enjoyed walking for a long time and, around 2007, became intrigued, then fascinated, then hooked on the idea of walking the thousand-year old pathway right across Spain, ending in Santiago de Compostelle. They walked the 800 km. of this pilgrimage in 2008. Ken will share some of the background of this “Way of St. James”, how this “foolish” idea got a hold on him, why thousands now do it every year, and what life as a modern pilgrim is like. Some life lessons and reflections on his experience will be offered, accompanied by some photos.
Dr. Johns, recently retired from l’Université de Sherbrooke, grew up in Montreal, but has been a Townshipper for over 40 years. He is a structural engineer educated at McGill University and University College London (England) and is an award-winning teacher of professional practice, ethics and history, He is interested in curriculum development, in professional education (how exactly you “build” a good Doctor, Lawyer, or Engineer for example), and in International development, having worked for many years on challenges in African education. At the University of Sherbrooke, he has served as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and as acting Vice-Rector and he has managed a CIDA-financed devlopment project for a new Faculty of Engineering in Central Africa.