.- 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.
“We're asking for divine intervention, and even a Pentecost on our country, for hearts to become pro-life,” 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 “Bike for the Unborn” 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.
“Like 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,” Fr. Nix said. “We're literally asking for miracles.”
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.
“God 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,” he said. “Penance and pilgrimage seems to call down those gifts like nothing else.”
A rider can pick a pro-life organization to support, while donors can choose riders to help.
However, the focus of “Bike for the Unborn” is not necessarily fundraising but “a pilgrimage of prayer and penance,” Fr. Nix said.
Organizers are praying that God may grant the grace for “a changed country” and for “a culture of life.”
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 “under the stars” while buying food and water at supermarkets along the way.
The route includes stops for Catholic Mass. However, the route is intentionally “in flux,” according to Fr. Nix.
“See, pilgrimages are kind of a providential event, and this one is too,” he said. “We'll just show up and let God do the heavy lifting, just like He did for Bl. Junipero Serra and his friends.”
The group also clarified that the event is open to everyone.
“We’re not looking for Olympic bicyclists, but they are more than welcome, of course! We’re looking for passionate lovers of Jesus Christ who want to see a radical change in society,” organizer Alyssa de la Torre told CNA March 15.
“It’s more than an effort to raise funds and awareness for this cause. Our vision for ‘Bike for the Unborn’ is that we will create revolution by seeking God’s divine intervention.”
De la Torre, a 24-year-old who works with at-risk youth in Fort Collins, Colorado, is the event’s webmaster and e-mail correspondent.
“We want riders who will expect the unexpected. This won’t be a predictable trip because we are choosing to rely on God’s provision for everything.”
She encouraged those who cannot participate to consider supporting a rider as a donor.
Grace Schneider, another organizer, said the event will be “an opportunity for refreshment and renewal in the pro-life movement.”
“It 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,” 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 “Bike for the Unborn.” She herself plans to enter the Dominicans of St. Cecilia in Nashville, Tenn. this August.
“We, 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,” she told CNA March 15.
“Most 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.”
Schneider said she doesn’t have any “prestigious” biking experience. “It's just my mode of transportation around Boulder, which is a beautiful place to bike!”
Several of the organizers have already ridden the route. Fr. Nix said he grew up mountain biking but is “not so good” at distance riding. “It’s time to start training,” he said.
Information for potential riders, donors and pro-life organization partners is available at the event’s website http://bikefortheunborn.com.