.- Organizers are encouraging cyclists to sign up for a 250-mile bike pilgrimage in southern California to raise money for pro-life organizations and pray for change in America.
âWe're asking for divine intervention, and even a Pentecost on our country, for hearts to become pro-life,â said Fr. David Nix, an event organizer who serves as parochial vicar at St. Anthony of Padua Church in the northeast Colorado city of Sterling.
The âBike for the Unbornâ route intends to follow the missions of Bl. Junipero Serra, the 18th century Franciscan priest who evangelized colonial California. It begins in San Gabriel, California at the San Gabriel Mission.
It also runs through Topanga State Park and Point Mugu State Park along the Pacific Coast Highway, before continuing through Carpinteria State Beach to Santa Barbara Mission.
From there, bikers will return to San Gabriel.
âLike Bl. Junipero Serra whose steps we'll follow, we know that simple steps can call down God's grace to give the gift of faith and shine into our country,â Fr. Nix said. âWe're literally asking for miracles.â
The idea for the June 12-16 event originated during pro-life work in Los Angeles with college men from Colorado, the priest told CNA March 14.
âGod put together a remarkable team with a great zeal to make this not just a fundraising trip but a pilgrimage to change this country as only God Himself can do, because no celebrity can give the gift of faith,â he said. âPenance and pilgrimage seems to call down those gifts like nothing else.â
A rider can pick a pro-life organization to support, while donors can choose riders to help.
However, the focus of âBike for the Unbornâ is not necessarily fundraising but âa pilgrimage of prayer and penance,â Fr. Nix said.
Organizers are praying that God may grant the grace for âa changed countryâ and for âa culture of life.â
Planners have scheduled two to five hours per day for riding, with the rest of each day free for worship, prayer, bike maintenance and physical recovery. Riders will sleep âunder the starsâ while buying food and water at supermarkets along the way.
The route includes stops for Catholic Mass. However, the route is intentionally âin flux,â according to Fr. Nix.
âSee, pilgrimages are kind of a providential event, and this one is too,â he said. âWe'll just show up and let God do the heavy lifting, just like He did for Bl. Junipero Serra and his friends.â
The group also clarified that the event is open to everyone.
âWeâre not looking for Olympic bicyclists, but they are more than welcome, of course! Weâre looking for passionate lovers of Jesus Christ who want to see a radical change in society,â organizer Alyssa de la Torre told CNA March 15.
âItâs more than an effort to raise funds and awareness for this cause. Our vision for âBike for the Unbornâ is that we will create revolution by seeking Godâs divine intervention.â
De la Torre, a 24-year-old who works with at-risk youth in Fort Collins, Colorado, is the eventâs webmaster and e-mail correspondent.
âWe want riders who will expect the unexpected. This wonât be a predictable trip because we are choosing to rely on Godâs provision for everything.â
She encouraged those who cannot participate to consider supporting a rider as a donor.
Grace Schneider, another organizer, said the event will be âan opportunity for refreshment and renewal in the pro-life movement.â
âIt is a time for people to come together in pilgrimage and prayer for our country and for the lives of the unborn. There is hope for our country and for the pro-life movement. But we must act,â she said.
Schneider, a 21-year-old Minnesota native, currently works for the Respect Life Group at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is contacting religious orders for prayer support for âBike for the Unborn.â She herself plans to enter the Dominicans of St. Cecilia in Nashville, Tenn. this August.
âWe, as bikers, will be a visible sign, biking through California, fundraising for pro-life organizations. However, our efforts will be for naught without the presence of prayer,â she told CNA March 15.
âMost importantly through this bike ride, we are begging God for mercy on our country and for spiritual renewal. Prayer is the backbone of this endeavor.â
Schneider said she doesnât have any âprestigiousâ biking experience. âIt's just my mode of transportation around Boulder, which is a beautiful place to bike!â
Several of the organizers have already ridden the route. Fr. Nix said he grew up mountain biking but is ânot so goodâ at distance riding. âItâs time to start training,â he said.
Information for potential riders, donors and pro-life organization partners is available at the eventâs website http://bikefortheunborn.com.