Founding owner Philip Ryall and new CEO Selina Hasham at Harvest’s new headquarters in Alexandria NSW.
Despite being in the middle of a pandemic and a pause in international travel, the future is looking bright for Harvest Journeys, Australia’s most well-known Catholic pilgrimage agency.
Thirty-three years to the day when the first Harvest pilgrimage departed Australia for the Holy Land, founding owner Philip Ryall has announced it’s time for the company to welcome a new CEO, appointing Selina Hasham to the role.
“Selina is joining us after a long career working in the Church,” said Mr Ryall. “Selina was key in building up the World Youth Day pilgrimages in Australia when she was part of the Harvest team in the early days, and it’s wonderful that she is returning to lead the next era of pilgrimage travel for all Australians.”
Selina Hasham is currently the Communications Director for the Diocese of Broken Bay and has worked in communications and creative direction in the Archdiocese of Sydney for the past 15 years.
Harvest has a trusted reputation globally for understanding the genuine needs of pilgrims, having coordinated some of the most historic Church events over the last three decades, including the international World Youth Days, Eucharistic Congresses, the Canonisation of Mary MacKillop, worldwide Papal events, and the Australian Catholic Youth Festival.
Philip Ryall started his own travel company at the age of 23 and after a personal faith encounter in 1988 dedicated Harvest as an exclusively Christian pilgrimage agency. At a time when pilgrimage was not a common Australian practice, Philip faced a long period of educating the market about the grace-filled opportunities of sacred travel. Thirty-three years later, it is clear the Church in Australia has embraced pilgrimage as a powerful means of personal faith encounter, youth evangelisation, and formation and renewal for teachers, clergy and religious.
The new CEO is hopeful for the next phase of the pilgrimage journey for the community of the Church in Australia.
“Some may think I’m crazy to be entering the travel industry in the middle of a pandemic,” said Selina Hasham, “but I know that pilgrimage for Australians has an exciting future. Once borders open and people can travel again, sacred journeys with meaning will be in unprecedented demand.”
“Nothing can beat the moving experience of walking the paths of Jesus Christ in the Holy Land or praying in the Grotto at Lourdes where Our Lady appeared to St Bernadette. These holy places are written into our Catholic imagination and to visit them in person is a tangible and spiritual encounter that simply changes lives.”
Harvest has recently launched a program of home-grown Australian pilgrimages which will take in the sights and sacred pathways to be explored around our beautiful nation. Catholic Roadtrips will include the regular features of a pilgrimage such as faith, fellowship and fun, while discovering hidden destinations and unique encounters with local church communities along the way. Itineraries include “Footsteps of Mary MacKillop”, “Tasmanian Spirit” and “Red Centre Pilgrimage”, all accompanied by Bishops or Priests celebrating powerful daily Masses along the way.
Harvest is busy expanding its range of COVID Safe journeys to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands as international travel bubbles open up.