Bicyclists aim to convert hearts
By Julie Filby
From left: Steven Beaumont Wagner, Grace Schneider, Alyssa de la Torre, Father David Nix, Kileen Willis, Steven Seguin and Keenan Fitzpatrick.
A group of cyclists from northern Colorado hope to change hearts across America when they take to their bikes for a 250-mile pilgrimage in southern California this summer.
Members of Bike for the Unborn—a team forming under the leadership of Father David Nix, parochial vicar at St. Anthony Church in Sterling—hope to rejuvenate a pro-life way of thinking from coast to coast, as well as raise money for pro-life organizations, during the June 12-16 trip.
“This trip is to petition a miracle for our country,” said Father Nix, “a miracle of divine intervention.”
Inspired by Blessed Junípero Serra, the 18th-century Franciscan priest from Spain who evangelized colonial California, riders intend to follow the same path as the zealous priest who established nine missions in the state. Their route will begin in San Gabriel, at the San Gabriel Mission east of Los Angeles; travel through Topanga State Park and Point Mugu State Park along the Pacific Coast Highway, then continue through Carpinteria State Beach to Santa Barbara Mission, before returning to San Gabriel.
“We (pray) not for our little bike ride, but that this bike ride be part of God’s grace to ask for a changed country—much as Blessed Junípero Serra brought the miracle of Our Lady of Guadeloupe up from Mexico to all of California,” he said. “Setting up missions and planting seeds of faith all along the way.”
Cyclists plan to ride at least four hours a day, ranging from 35 to 60 miles; allowing the remainder of the day for prayer and worship, bike maintenance and physical recovery. Each rider will carry all necessary supplies on his or her bike. They plan to stay at campgrounds in state parks along the route and buy food and water at grocery stores in the vicinity.
“When an older woman asked where we were staying … (and I responded), ‘We don’t know,’” Father Nix said, “she understood our vagrancy and even used a word that had inexplicably escaped our lips up to this point: pilgrimage.
“We (will) rely on providence, even the land,” he said. “California oranges, perhaps.”
Kileen Willis, 19—a freshman at Colorado State University and parishioner at Blessed John XXIII in Fort Collins—was inspired to get involved with Bike for the Unborn following a recent talk at CSU by former Planned Parenthood director, now pro-life advocate Abby Johnson.
“Bringing Abby to campus was a wonderful witness and really the beginning of wonderful conversations,” said Willis. “So when asked if I wanted to be on a team to bike in prayer for the unborn I was thrilled.”
Each rider will pick a pro-life organization to support, such as the International Pro-Life Youth Alliance, 40 Days for Life or Project Rachel, among others; then seek donors. While Willis hopes donors support the riders financially, she feels the most important contribution is prayer.
“One can support us through this pilgrimage through their prayers, that’s the most important thing we ask,” she said. “They’re so incredibly essential for God to do his work.
“Secondly, supporting riders through a donation would be very helpful in supporting not only us, but many different pro-life organizations.”
Organizers hope others will consider signing up for the team that currently consists of 11 participants.
“We’d love to have people who are passionate about the pro-life movement join our team,” Willis said. “Our Lord has a wonderful plan and it will be inspiring to see people unite and ride along the coast together in worship for renewal and rejuvenation in the pro-life movement.”
For more information or to sign up to ride, visit www.BikeForTheUnborn.com.