Priests and Seminarians to Bike for Vocations

From left, Seminarian Steven Diaz, Rev. Marc Swartvagher, Seminarian Dominik Wegiel, Rev. Joseph Fitzgerald and Seminarian Stephen Rooney

From left, Seminarian Steven Diaz, Rev. Marc Swartvagher, Seminarian Dominik Wegiel, Rev. Joseph Fitzgerald and Seminarian Stephen Rooney

A group of priests and seminarians from dioceses in and around New York City are planning to raise awareness about the joys of the religious life by biking 1,400 miles up the East Coast.

The Biking4Vocations team of two priests and three seminarians will kick off the 29-day journey from St. Augustine, Florida to Long Island, New York on May 15.

One of the bikers, Father Joseph Fitzgerald, is a former member of the 1996 Olympic Handball Team who later became a priest. Father Marc Swartvagher, academic dean for Cathedral Seminary House of Formation in Douglaston will join him along with three seminarians – Stephen Rooney from the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Dominik Wegiel from the Diocese of Brooklyn and Steven Diaz from the Archdiocese of New York.

The team will pass through 11 states, 10 dioceses and 5 Archdiocese in the course of their biking pilgrimage.

“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.

“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 to 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 team will ride from 13 to 85 miles each day, depending on conditions, and will pray the Liturgy of the Hours five times a day during the trip. They are also planning to make daily stops en-route to attend Mass and Holy Hours, as well as for special events that are being planned by many of the dioceses along the way.

The bikers will be sent forth on their pilgrimage during the monthly Holy Hour for Vocations which will be held at the Parish of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Deer Park, New York on the evening of May 15 where they will be blessed by the Most Reverend Robert Brennan, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

The faithful are asked to keep this very important pilgrimage in their prayers, that it might inspire men and women to answer God’s call during this critical time in our nation’s history.

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