In Ride for Vocations, cyclists pedal and pray to promote priesthood and religious callings – Catholic standards


In the parking lot of Sacred Heart Church in La Plata, Maryland, on September 18, there was a mixture of high energy, a little friendly trash talk, and general camaraderie in the air.

Early Saturday morning, more than 130 cyclists checked their brakes, filled water bottles, and got ready for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington’s annual Ride for Vocations. After a kick-off fair, riders, from seasoned long-distance cyclists to children with their parents, set out in groups on a route that meandered 160 kilometers through the countryside and through small towns in southern Maryland. It was all in the interests of prayer and calling awareness. Cyclists could also choose from routes that ended after 70 miles and 50 miles.

Father Larry Swink, pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in St. Mary’s City and St. Peter Claver Parish in St. Inigoes, is starting the annual Ride for Vocations, which began in the parking lot of the Sacred Heart Church in La Plata. Maryland, where he has served as a pastor for the past few years. (CS Photo / Andrew Biraj)

Julie Ferrero, a Sacred Heart employee who volunteered the bike tour, said the 138 entries were the most for the event. It started years ago with a group of priests and seminarians riding as a team. They initially took part in a ride called the Seagull Century, which is based at Salisbury University, she said. They joined the Southern Maryland Fall Century, also known as the Indian Head 100, for another year. But recently the Ride for Vocations became its own event.

“Last year we took it on a Catholic church tour,” Ferrero said, noting the stops for rest, refreshments and prayer at half a dozen mostly historic churches in the archdiocese’s southern counties. The Blessed Sacrament was exhibited in several churches and all were open for prayer. At almost every stop, the local Knights of Columbus offered snacks and other refreshments. On September 23, Ferrero said $ 50,000 was raised through registration fees, donations, and sponsorship.

Cyclists set off for the Archdiocese of Washington’s annual Ride for Vocations, which began in the Sacred Heart Church parking lot in La Plata on September 18, 2021 and meandered through southern Maryland. More than 130 cyclists, including priests, seminarians, deacons and lay people, took part in the event. (CS Photo / Andrew Biraj)

The riders that year included about 20 seminarians, eight priests, two deacons and five brothers from the Dominican House, Ferrero said. Most of the participants had connections with the archdiocese or with nearby seminars.

Justine Napier, a parishioner for St. John Neumann’s in Gaithersburg, Maryland, had driven from her Montgomery County home to Charles County that morning for her first long-haul drive. Your goal, the 50 mile route. Her motivation: “Because it is for the seminarians and praying for the church.” She explained that the opportunity to combine her love for cycling and her love for the church is too tempting to miss.

Napier said she didn’t know any of the other cyclists there that morning. And the course ahead was on the long side of their usual journeys.

“A more typical drive for me is about 20 miles,” she said. “But I trained and drove 40-50 miles over a couple of days.”

Cyclists taking part in the Ride for Vocations in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington also included this group of riders from Waldorf Automotive, one of the event’s sponsors. From left to right, they’re Mike Fitzgerald, Doug Cline, Kevin Basiliko, Greg Basiliko, and Andy White. The Ride for Vocations kicked off September 18, 2021 from the Sacred Heart Church parking lot in La Plata, Maryland. Greg Basiliko from Waldorf Automotive provided the two support vehicles and drivers for the day. (CS Photo / Andrew Biraj)

Dino Tolentino wanted to ride the 50-mile route with his wife Terry and son Nick that day. Tolentino had actually driven the 101-mile route alone a few days earlier. But he wanted to keep up with his family in the official race.

Tolentino said he was pushed to ride a bike by Father Larry Swink, former Sacred Heart pastor and an avid cyclist. Tolentino said Father Swink essentially prescribed him cycling a few years ago to speed his recovery from prostate cancer. He was addicted.

Nick Tolentino said the family also took part in a vocations run. “We’re doing as much as possible,” said his father. Pointing to his cycling jersey, which features a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe, he added, “I think wearing this cycling jersey on the road is a great testimony.”

Other jerseys worn by multiple riders related to the councils of the Knights of Columbus, a Franciscan health organization, and Ave Maria University. Some showed Saint Michael the Archangel or other saints.

These logos have been used on banners and other promotional materials to encourage people to participate in or support the annual Vocation Drive in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

Some seminarians showed a little competitiveness. Your goal, said Louis McHale, a theology student at Mount Saint Mary, “to beat the faculty. Father (Kevin) Regan, we’re on the hunt for you! ”He said with a big grin on his face.

Father Regan, Vice-Rector of the Seminary of St. John Paul II, is an avid cyclist with a reputation for dwarfing younger riders. McHale was contacted after the race and said Danny Morrison and Colin Snyder, two other seminarians in the archdiocese, had beaten Father Regan’s time. Among the group of seminarians “firing” Father Regan was the big winner Tim Kraemer, who is a student at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary for the Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota. His time: 101 miles in 5 hours and 31 minutes. There is no official timekeeping for the event. Participants record their own times.

Before taking part in the Callings Cycle on September 18, 2021, people gathered early in the morning to attend a mass at the Sacred Heart Church in La Plata, where they prayed for callings. (CS Photo / Andrew Biraj)

Another seminarian, Benedict Radich, was returning for his second 100-mile ride in the sophomore year of his theology degree at Mount St. Mary’s. After his first ride, the Bike Doctor, a Waldorf store that supports the ride, donated a higher quality wheelset for his future endeavors. Radich also drove a 100-mile run that was a pantry fundraiser. “I’ve probably ridden 2,500 miles on my bike,” he said, mostly in training.

Radich’s brother Gabriel, a seminarian at St. John Paul II Seminary, also rode. “And my father is there,” he said. “Many of us trained together.”

Before cyclists set out for the annual Ride for Vocations on September 18, 2021, participants and supporters attended a mass at Sacred Heart Church in La Plata to pray for callings and then posed for a group photo in front of the church. (CS Photo / Andrew Biraj)

Ferrero said the trip was “really an archdiocese event,” with participants from one end of the archdiocese’s territory to the other. Many of the important sponsors are based in the southern districts, such as the Bike Doctor, who took care of the bicycle repairs at the first rest stop. Waldorf Auto provided two “Sag-Wagen”, the vans, which follow the drivers for emergency support, and provided employees as drivers for the day.

Although the day after the storms was clear at the beginning of the week, the afternoon was humid and quite hot. Some drivers needed these vans to take them back to the start / end point at Sacred Heart, Ferrero said. “All the riders gave everything they needed to pray and suffer for the seminarians.”

Event organizer Julie Ferrero and her daughter Nina led the Ride for Vocations, which kicked off September 18, 2021 from their home church of Sacred Heart in La Plata, Maryland. (Courtesy photo)

Ferrero herself drove the 100-mile route over Labor Day weekend, knowing she would be too busy worrying about details to attend the September 18 event. She added that in addition to organizing the ride, mapping and marking the route, registering and ordering t-shirts, praying was a big part of the preparations. “Starting in early July, we will be sending daily vocational prayers to the riders and some of the Sacred Heart prayer warriors. Each day we include the picture of a seminarian and a calling prayer. We have a day of prayer for each seminarist that ends the day before the trip. “

She was particularly pleased that the drivers took the time to pray – “and that they weren’t just concentrating on the journey and the weather. The most important part of the trip is the prayers. God will provide priests and we must pray for these young men and women to answer the call to be holy priests and religious ready to serve the Church with a mission to save souls. It is a difficult calling, especially these days, and the prayers are critical. “

About Gloria Skelton

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