A Follow-Up Interview with Sue Kenney and Her Documentary on the Camino de Santiago: A Pilgrim Continues Her Journey
My good friend Sue Kenney left the corporate world a few years ago and went on a pilgrimage on the famous Camino de Santiago, a truly life-changing event for her. Since then Sue has written a best-selling book called “My Camino”, she has recorded a story-telling CD, has become a sought-after speaker, seminar leader and personal coach. The Camino has become her new life.
There is always something interesting going on in Sue’s life. Last year in particular Sue took a group of pilgrims on the Camino with her and created a documentary about this profound experience.
Sue Kenney (far left) and her group of pilgrims
(c) Pasha Patriki
I had a chance to catch up with Sue again and see what she has been up to.
1. We last chatted last year in May. What is new since then? What have you been working on?
I’ve been working on co-writing a screenplay with Bruce Pirrie, my writing partner and editor, based on the book I wrote called My Camino. I have also taken a group of 5 women on a journey walking 240 kms on the Camino and filmed a documentary about it. I am in the editing process of my second book, Confessions of a Pilgrim. I have attached a chapter from the book. I have had two of my poems published in a book commorating the Huntsville Poetry Fringe Festival. My leadership/writing/Camino coaching business is booming. I have a number of clients I am coaching as they go through the process of writing a book; a number of clients who I work with on a weekly bases to prepare to walk 800 kms of the Camino alone in the fall, and a couple of business executives I work with too.
(c) Pasha Patriki
2. Of course one of the big news is your October trip to the Camino which you turned into a documentary. Please tell us about the preparations leading up to the trip and the work involved in preparing for a documentary.
Inititally I was approached by a women who had terminal breast cancer, to take her and her girlfriends on the Camino. When I added this to my web site, I had a number of people interested in joining us on the journey. A Toronto production company wanted to do a documentary about me and I agreed to co-produce it. I spent a couple of months prior to the journey providing a weekly training program and answering questions about preparation for the Camino. Due to other commitments with the launch of their feature film, they had to back out of the documentary. But since I had the journey already planned and agreement from the people walking to being a part of a documentary, I considered cancelling the project since I had never been a film maker or directed a documentary and I didn’t have the funding needed. Once I decided to take on the project myself, in one month I raised the additional funding, hired a Director of Photography and developed the storyboard. Unfortunately, the woman who asked me to take her on the path had to cancel because of her health. By now I had 5 other women signed up and we were ready to go.
(c) Pasha Patriki
3. What about the trip itself? How long was it? What was the itinerary?
240 kms. We travelled from Toronto to Madrid and then rented a van. I drove the van to Ponferrada, then on to the Valley of Silence, a mystical site located in the mountains. We stayed the night there and drove back to Ponferrada, and then walked on average 20kms a day to arrive in Santiago over 11 days.
4. How many people joined you on this trip? What about the make-up of the travel group? What were your co-pilgrims’ motivations to go on the Camino?
There were 5 pilgrims, myself and we had a cameraman, Sasha Patriki, with us. Here are my pilgrims:
Mony Dojeiji, a 40 year old Lebanese, Canadian MBA, former business executive in the software industry, and now a master pilgrim. Strong willed and assertive, Mony represents hard-core pilgrim values and struggles with her natural inclination to take charge. A soldier for peace, Mony assumes the role of a veteran sergeant in the group. [I did an interview last year with Mony about her 5000 km Walk for Peace, another very interesting woman.]
Anita D’Amario is a 44 year old business executive first generation Canadian Italian. She’s optimistic and ready for a possibly difficult journey, which she does indeed experience. It’s Anita who raises possibly the most interesting question on the journey; “How much do we have to suffer in order to be happy?”
Margie McParland, a 56 year old retired teacher and mother of five children, is a world traveler and loves to hike. “Some people came on this journey to find out who they are, I know who I am.” She came not expecting to have a religious experience but winds up mothering, mentoring and teaching two pilgrims how to pray the rosary.
Anita Shuper is a 33 year old MBA graduate who has survived ovarian cancer and saw this journey as an opportunity for personal growth. She hates the sunshine, loves rain, adores cats and composes music along the way. Naturally funny and a source of comic relief, she experiences what is possibly the most profound emotional and spiritual transformation of all the pilgrims.
Laura Cooper is a 30-something divorced mother of two children. The smallest of the group, she is private, introspective and quiet. Yet, days before the end of the journey, she finally asserts her feelings to the group, forcing everyone to face the true purpose of their journey.
(c) Pasha Patriki