The author is a Jesuit priest currently based in Belfast, but has been in constant movement all his life. Raised on a farm in Co. Fermanagh, N. Ireland, he developed a love for nature and the outdoors. However, he was soon on the move, searching for a fuller life, moving first to England and then Australia as a computer interface designer in the 80s. Brendan got disillusioned with the ‘yuppie’ corporate world, trading in his sports car to join the Jesuits back in Ireland. Part of his initial Jesuit training was a walk across Spain begging for food and accommodation, learning how to be a pilgrim.
His subsequent work reflected this theme whether bringing young people up the pilgrim trail to Ireland’s holy mountain, Croagh Patrick, leading ecological walks in Colombia, or running school retreats in Connemara. He has made the major pilgrimages to Rome, Jerusalem, Lourdes and Taizé, but has also a keen interest in Irish pilgrimage sites such as Glendalough, Skellig Michael, Glencolmcille, Knock and Lough Derg.
‘Brendan McManus is to be admired and commended for his bravery in committing such a personal story to paper, and it is my hope that others who have travelled the same path – physically or emotionally – will read this book and recognise something of themselves in its pages.’
– Frances Murphy, Thinking Faith, July 2014
The author’s main qualification for writing an Ignatian reflection on the Camino is his extensive training in Ignatian Spirituality, he has literally walked in the footsteps of St. Ignatius, and has reflected and written on this experience. In 1994 he walked the 500 mile Ignatian walk from Loyola to Manresa in Spain trying to live the authentic pilgrim spirit. His reflections on this walk were published in the British Jesuit ‘The Way’ Journal: The Inner Journey.
The author is an experienced writer and perceptive observer of human experience. Even in his early days as a Jesuit he captured in words the paradoxical beauty in working with disability among the L’Arche community. After his brother’s suicide the author wrote about the family’s initial experience in an article that was to solicit extensive feedback and prove useful to many others.
The author has already written a short article on his Camino experience, and the actual blog, unedited, that he wrote while on the Camino was a real treasure house for his writings. The author was the Editor for the Irish Jesuit’s E-News from 2006-‘08, and has been a film reviewer for the Irish Messenger from 2009-‘12. Before becoming a Jesuit The author worked in IT and had a number of technical publications there. The author has been involved with the Irish suicide prevention charity Console, appearing on their Fundraisers’ page as the biggest single fundraiser for his Camino sponsorship.
The author is also a gifted public speaker and photographer. He took many photos on the Camino and the best are available on this website. Although trained in business presentations through his former work with computer giant, HP, the author’s main public speaking is now preaching, retreats and spirituality seminars. His preferred mode of communication is story telling, especially drawing on real life examples from the Camino. Being concrete and incarnate, it speaks powerfully to people’s own life experience.
The author is also a fluent Spanish speaker (the dominant Camino language), through four years studying theology in Spanish in Colombia, and has a lot of experience talking to Hispanic groups. He understands well the Latin American culture and spirituality and is at home in those cultures, especially speaking on themes of suffering and the Passion of Christ.
‘The most inspiring book for me this year was Brendan McManus’s Redemption Road – Grieving on the Camino (Orpen Press, €16.99). It is not only a moving and uplifting narrative about how a priest copes with the suicide of a beloved brother, but an informative and well-annotated guide to the Camino to Santiago. It includes a good map, an excellent Spanish-language glossary, further reading lists and a helpful background about Ignatius Loyola’s spiritual exercises. A mixture of poignant human story and spiritual pilgrimage – a remarkable book.’
– Irish Catholic ‘Books of the Year 2014′, Mary Kenny