The Biking 4 Vocations team, from left, Steven Diaz, Father Joseph Fitzgerald, Dominick Wegiel, Stephen Rooney and Father Marc Swartvagher.
To raise awareness of vocations to priesthood and religious life, two Catholic priests and three seminarians bike 1400 miles, from Saint Augustine, Florida, to Rockville Centre on a 29-day journey.
Father Joseph Fitzgerald, director of vocations for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, will be riding with Father Marc Swartvagher, academic dean for Cathedral Seminary House of Formation, Douglaston, and with three seminarians (men studying to become Catholic priests) — Stephen Rooney from the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Dominik Wegiel from the Diocese of Brooklyn and studying to become a priest in the Diocese of Rockville Centre and Steven Diaz from the Archdiocese of New York.
Passing through 11 states, ten dioceses and five archdioceses, the biking pilgrimage will begin May 17 in Saint Augustine and conclude on June 14 at the Cathedral of Saint Agnes in Rockville Centre.
“The objective of this biking pilgrimage is to give glory to God by encouraging priestly vocations and inviting the local Church to respond to Jesus’ missionary call to ‘make disciples of all nations.’ (Matthew 28 19-20)” said Father Fitzgerald.
Those wishing to find out more and to follow the bikers on their journey can visit www.biking4vocations.org. The website will feature daily updates and GPS tracking of the pilgrims. The website will also contain up-to-date information on events in each diocese welcoming the pilgrims. Those wishing to make a donation may do so. All proceeds will go to support the pilgrimage and the vocations offices of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of New York.
“Many people are asking why we are biking up the East Coast when we could just drive,” said Father Swartvagher. “We believe there is something unique about the physical and sacrificial element of biking on our pilgrimage. Our mission is one with physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions. We feel strongly about our task to promote vocations, and we truly intend to give our all, including physically to this journey.”
The “Biking4Vocations” team will cover a range of 13 to 85 miles each day depending on conditions. In addition to the physical component, there is a spiritual component as well. Priests and seminarians have a commitment to pray the Liturgy of the Hours five times a day. The team will make periodic stops en-route in order to pray this important prayer of the Church. Recognizing that as Catholics, the Eucharist is at the heart of spiritual lives, the team will ensure the celebration of the Mass is at the center of its daily routine.
Many of the dioceses along the route of pilgrimage are planning special events to welcome the bikers. Check biking4vocations.org for details.
Prior to travelling to Saint Augustine for the beginning of their pilgrimage, the bikers will be sent forth during the monthly Diocese of Rockville Centre Holy Hour for Vocations on May 15 at 7 p.m. at Saints Cyril and Methodius in Deer Park (125 Half Hollow Road). During this Holy Hour, Bishop Robert Brennan, will bless the bikers as they begin the nearly one-month-long journey. A concert featuring Christian musician Audrey Assad will follow the Holy Hour.