Mary's Camino Pilgrimage

Why the Camino de Santiago? ​Why 2020?

I am a single mom of two, a recovering anorexic and currently author, motivational speaker & workshop leader turning my life into something for others. Several years ago a very dear friend and mentor, set out to walk the Camino de Santiago in her late 60's. I was so inspired by her courage to walk alone on such an amazing adventure, and by her never failing faith that always was her guide!  She had been a very loyal, spiritual friend and support on my journey towards healing from my Anorexia. I had always been blessed by her belief in me when others left, her faith in my ability to overcome my own struggles with no doubts and her constant presence in my life.

When she came home from her first pilgrimage, she discovered her cancer. From that very first day, she put up a brave and heroic fight for a few years before succumbing to the evils of cancer on January 9th, 2013. Before she left this earth before her 70th birthday, she walked a second pilgrimage to complete her Camino while battling the cancer that would take her life. One of the last times I was able to visit with my dear friend as she was disappearing before me, she told me that I, too, would walk the Camino for her as a victory in my recovery. I looked straight into her tired and faithful eyes as I agreed. This is not the first time a friend has made such an enormous death bed wish for me. I knew the powerful nature of the request and the defining meaning that would follow me. I decided it was time to finally fulfill her wish on my 50th birthday,  October 2020. 

I hope to begin my walk in the Grotto of Lourdes, France where I have ministered to the dying and sick since 2001. Lourdes is the first pilgrimage spot I was called to by another dear friend that helped me fight for life in my Anorexia, who passed away from her own battle with cancer in 2000. While she was on pilgrimage to Lourdes searching for healing, she had a vision of me working with the sick and dying in the baths of Lourdes. It was then on her death bed she asked me to fulfill this vision. That wish and my first pilgrimage changed my life forever. I felt with these two amazing women asking this great journey of me, it felt appropriate to start in Lourdes hiking through the Pyrenees across Spain ending in Santiago de Compostela. 

I am choosing to complete this walk in six weeks; walking six days with one rest day. However, I am open to whatever the spirit calls albeit shorter if need be in raising funds and my children's needs while they are at home. I will start in September and hope to finish on my 50th birthday, October 23, 2020. 

Many have encouraged me to reach out for donations, for as a single mom, minimalist who works and lives in survival mode, this journey has been becoming much bigger than me. As a writer, I hope to post and write throughout the journey with a book in the future. I will offer prayers and rosaries for donations that request given my gift of intercessory prayer. It is a journey I have been to called to for several years and feel this is the time. Any help that can be given is greatly appreciated and will come back to you in ways you least expect. I am honored to walk in memory of those who lost their lives to cancer and eating disorders. My journey has always been about giving back for the gifts received in my own healing. This journey is no different as I humbly ask for your help, but rest assured working hard to ear as much as I possibly can on my own! Peace to you!

Many blessings, 


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Andrea Kanelopoulos 
Damascus, VA
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