Saturday, February 10, 2024

Hospitaler@ News Spring 2024

Last year well over 40 postings were attended by Canadian trained hospitaler@s. We posted the first name and location of those we knew about and are aware that other experienced hospitaler@s went back to serve in Spain, France, Portugal or Italy. 

As of this writing there are over 30 “destinos” which will be attended to by Canadian hospitaler@s in 2024. If you are serving this year, can you please contact Mary Virtue (maryvirtue(at) or Tom (tomfriesen50(at) We will put your first name, location and dates on this blog. This may aid in knowing who is serving at the same time. Some hospitaler@s have managed to meet, debrief or support each other in this way. 

Last year we designed a t-shirt to be given to hospitaler@s. It is available free of charge to those who will serve or have served. Contact Tom if you would like one. Please give me your size and the address to mail it to.

We offered a hospitaler@ training in Gatineau in mid-January and were gratified that more than half of the participants have already been assigned a hospitaler@ posting. There are more training courses planned for Fredericton, Kelowna and London. Follow this space for notice and to register. To receive an application to register, please contact Mary or Tom.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

A report from the Camino Primitivo

30th August, 2023.

Polo de Allende, Spain.

Only 4 hours after we arrived at Polagrino Albergue, Camino Primitivo, we leapt into action to serve 15 pilgrims for dinner.

We were expecting maybe 6 pilgrims to come, but people kept coming because of the rain. By 8, we had 15 very cold and hungry pilgrims waiting to be fed, a full house. 


At this albergue, we are not only doing the usual house keeping duty, we are also need to cook vegetarian meal for whoever want to join in. 


We arrive the day during a switch over day, so luckily other hospitalerors quickly brought us up to date. The house keeping part isn’t tough, normal task one needs to do at home. 


If you are stationed at an albergue that needed to cook for a large crowd, work out a menu that is delicious and easy to put together. Our to go menu is: mixed salad, lentil soup, bread and vegetable pastas. Salad and soup can be made ahead. Pasta can be boiled ahead to al dente then rinsed with cold water to stop it continuing to cook. Sauce also can be made ahead and keep it warm. About half hour before dinner, warm up the sauce. Boil a big pot of water and once the water is hot, put to pasta back in for a few minutes to warm up, then serve. To save time, we always use the kettle to boil the water.


Don’t make everything last minute. Makig food ahead of time can save a lot of stress when 15 hungry mouths are waiting. Also you can visually portion everything when they are cooked ahead of time. In case you need more food, add stuff to your salad, like canned corns or canned white beans. We always make more so we can have the leftover for the next day, if there is anything left.


This albergue has an instruction sheet on all tasks, make it very easy for referencing. 


Be prepared to have a lot of downtime. You aren’t working all the time at the albergue. Bring a book, learn Spanish, do a painting. You need something to occupy your time as some albergues are located at tiny villages with not much to do, like this one we are at.


Divide tasks in among of hospitaleros. If you can’t cook well, try food prep and let someone else who can cook well to do the cooking. Or stay out of the kitchen and do clean up instead. One person can do changing of bed sheets while the other one mops the floor. It creates less conflict when tasks are divided.


Spend time talking to pilgrims. Everyone brings something unique to the table. Some people aren’t the chatty type, respect that and give them space. 


Bring something that you think will be nice addition to the albergue. We brought Canadian pins to give out. I brought Montreal Steak spicy for cooking. Previously I have brought curry powder to make curried potatoes. We also brought heavy duty house gloves for washing dishes and cleaning yucky stuff. Not every albergue stocks gloves. Leave them for the next crew.


A warm welcome and smile goes a long way.


Dennis Tam


Friday, June 16, 2023

Training sessions across Canada

You have walked the Camino de Santiago and enjoyed staying at donativo albergues. They were usually located in "quaint - older" places but you enjoyed the convivial atmosphere among pilgrims that made you feel mentally refreshed in the morning when you left.

Did you know that much of the positive energy generated in these albergues comes from well trained volunteers called Hospitaleros who offer their services free of charge and live at the albergue for 15 days?  Hospitaleros serve pilgrims in a spirit that has endured since the X century, and they become part of the local community during their stay.

There are training sessions being offered across Canada this year. If you are interested in returning to Spain as a hospitalero and would like to take the training, please know that (a) hospitaleros are needed (b) you would be expected to serve within 12 months of taking the training.

The Calgary Chapter of the Company of Pilgrims will offer a hospitalero training session this year (2023) on November 18 and 19 If there is interest. Participants will be limited to 15 people.

Contact Monique Rigole, Calgary Hospitalero training coordinator if you are interested in taking the course.

The Victoria Chapter will offer training on the weekend of September 1-3. Please contact Mary Virtue if you are interested and she will send you an application form.

The Sasktooon Chapter will be hosting a training session, led by Tom Friesen on the weekend of August 18-20. Again, please contact him directly for an application form.

Tom is also presenting training sessions in London next weekend, June 23-25 and in Ottawa sometime in January/February 2024.

Please check out the pages on the right to see more about the training and to also see where our Canadians are serving this year.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Hospitalera Report from El Burgo Ranero

This just in from Caroline Laing, one of our newest hospitaleras:

Happy Easter!! 😄✨🌸

✨HAPPY EASTER everyone!✨

So, I’ve been here now in El Burgo Ranero since March 30th, serving pilgrims on the Camino Frances as hospitalera voluntaria. My little home away from home is located between Sahagun and Léon, in the Castillan y Léon province of Spain. I am by myself here, welcoming between 8 and 19 pilgrims so far each day. I open the albergue at 1 and folks arrive one by one or in pairs, throughout the afternoon- each one having walked at least 18km since the last main town (Sahagun).
Their body language tells it all- tired, sore feet, some with new blisters.
I’ve treated a few feet!

« Holà buenos dias! Bonjour, et bienvenue! Welcome, come on in, have a seat. Buon giorno! Guten Tag!…. » My Korean is pretty well non-existent 😕!lol
They all gratefully accept a candy .

I register their name, passport or ID card #, and stamp their credencial or pilgrim passport. « Where did you start your journey? Where did you walk from today? It’s 1€ for your sheet/pillow case (disposable), and this albergue is ´donativo’. We suggest you give what you’ve been paying in the past days. This helps maintain our facility. ThNk you so much! 
« Let me show you around: leave your hiking sticks there in the corner basket, you can leave your boots/shoes here. Please help yourself to a cup of tea or infusion in the kitchen. Laundry? You may use the second sink in the kitchen or this facility outside. Lots of clotheslines. Let me know if you need more clothespins. 
Showers, toilets, sinks are here. The beds are upstairs- 4 dorms . Choose your bed! And have a good rest.
If you need to cook, the kitchen is equipped with a stove top, microwave and small toaster grill. Otherwise there are 2 restaurants across the street. They do offer a pilgrim menu for 13€ (approx $19) two-course meal incl dessert and red house wine and bottled water.
Enjoy your stay! » 😁🎒

Pilgrims come in different shapes and sizes, languages…..
Young and old…But all glad to be warmly welcomed. Mi casa es su casa. Indeed, I consider this my home while I’m here.

I like to chat with them - find out a bit about their life…   « Where do you live? »
And let people open up…..
It’s been an incredible opportunity to gently encourage… Some are between jobs, some are walking as a way to clear their heads and figure out their lives.

They come in, greeted by music softly playing through my little portable speaker!(glad I purchased at Costco!). I prepared several playlists on Spotify (no-ad account!!) before leaving Fergus. All Christian music : instrumental guitar, instrumental piano…. And Taizé music (google it!) which I put on at 7 am to gently wake ppl up! At least those who aren’t up yet 🥱

Every morning I make a fire 🔥 in the old fireplace… It’s chilly still.
Some pilgrims prepare their own bfast (food they brought the day before), others go to the restaurant across the street which opens at 7 am. A big cup of cafe con léche and a tostada! 
They’re on their way by 8 at the latest.
I say goodbye to each one- by name. It’s important to remember their names. 
I’ve even offered a prayer or a word of encouragement…. You can tell those who need it. Thank You Lord.
Breakfast for me.
Clean - sweep, wash floors, empty out garbage and take to corner garbage and recycling bins.
My own personal laundry. Sun and wind dry things fast.

I may have some time to walk over to the little store attached to the one gas station, and load up on more candy for my guests!
I go in across the street and say hello to the staff/owners: Monica, her mom Julia and Theo; to Loreina, her fiancé Victor, his mom Charro, and owner Santi (short for Santiago).

Everyday someone brings me a hot lunch - prepared and delivered by another local restaurant and organised by the town (they look after their hospitalera!) Thankful.

Time to get ready for the next group of Pilgrims…. « Lord, give me favour with each one. Keep them safe on their way here and help me to be your hands and feet to each one who comes in . »
Put on music… Music that speaks of Who God is…. Our living Hope.
May I serve ´enthusiastically out of love for Jesus and gratitude for all He has done.’ Alléluia. 
Serve one another through love. 
Gal. 5:13

Happy Easter!





Sent from my iPhone 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Training across Canada for 2023

We will be offering Hospitaler@ Training in Halifax, London and Victoria on the following dates. If you are interested in the training so that you can return to Spain and serve other pilgrims, please contact Tom Friesen or Mary Virtue. They will then send you an word.doc application to fill out and return.

Halifax, NS    May 19-21    Tom Friesen

London, ON  June 23-25      Tom Friesen 

Victoria, BC  September 1-3     Mary Virtue

The training starts on a Friday evening with a Spanish meal and introductions and then continues on Saturday and Sunday from 8-4 each day. We try our best to find billeting for those from out of town. Cost for materials, food, etc. is $125 or a donativo. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Training offered in Halifax : 19-21 May, 2023

We are happy to announce that in person training will begin once again. Our first training session will be in Halifax on the weekend of the 19th-21t May, 2023. A second training will be at the other end of the country, in Victoria, in September. Date TBD. The albergues need volunteers and you will be welcomed with open arms by other hospitaleros and the villages and towns in which you serve.

 Camino de Santiago

Hospitaler@ Training

Date: May 19 – 21, 2023

Halifax, NS



 Thank you for your interest in training to be a hospitaler@.  We guarantee that it will be a weekend of fun, learning, and reinforcement of all those things you learned and felt on the Camino.  Some folks will be coming from out of town and will require accommodation.  If you have room to billet a single or couple, please indicate below. You can have great fun reliving the Camino! The organizers are asking that you be interested in serving in 2023 or 2024.


Please complete this form and return it with a cheque for $125.00 or your donativo (what you feel you can afford) payable to Tom Friesen, 1403 – 22 Picton Street, London, ON N6B 3R5 (or return by email and send the cheque separately). If you have any questions, please email Tom.  Any money left after the expenses for the weekend will be donated Miraz, which the Confraternity of Saint James in London has purchased and has been running for twenty years and to the Hospitaleros Voluntarios which operates many albergues on the Camino.







Telephone :                                               email;


Will you require billeting for the Friday/Saturday/Sunday nights?


Can you provide billeting for the Friday/Saturday/Sunday nights?


Any food restrictions we should be aware of?


When did you walk/cycle the Camino?   Month and year(s) please.


Why do you want to be a hospitalero?


Are you prepared to volunteer for 15 days in 2010? (The Federation assigns volunteers from the 1st to the 15thof the month of the 16th to 30th/31st . You should show up a day early to “learn the ropes” and for a smooth transition at the albergue.)


Tom Friesen  


Sunday, January 22, 2023

Update for serving in Spain

There have been some changes in the steps to take when applying to serve at an albrgue overseen by HOSVOL. The coordinator in Spain is now Manual Oliva. Manuel wants all initial applications for service (in a HOSVOL albergue) to come through Tom Friesen An application from you will consist of an email to Tom, with the choice of month that you are free to serve and a choice of albergue from the HOSVOL list. Tom will forward on your information (application and passport photo page) including your offered time (first or last half month). If you are restricted to a specific first or last half of a month, please do indicate this. And if you don’t have a preference for an albergue you could perhaps indicate city or rural. With this kind of information, it makes it easier for Manuel to respond and offer you a specfic albergue. 

Also, for this summer, two albergues, which are usually very busy will be posting for shorter periods of time. 

Estella will change hospice every Saturday in July, Aug, Sept, so only serving 1 week, not 2.

Ponferrada will have 10 day postings in July, Aug, Sept. 

Please click on the link to your right to see where Canadian Hospitaler@s have been posted so far this year. The photos below are from the albergue in Salamanca, February 2019.