Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
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Cycling for Change team visits Walla Walla, Pomeroy parishes en route to Florida
Story and photo by Scott Cooper, for the Inland Register
(From the July 1, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)
Jesuit Father Matt Ruhl is leading a team of bicyclists in a cross-country trek to raise awarness of poverty issues in the United States. (IR photo courtesy of Scott Cooper)
As part of the centennial celebration of Catholic Charities in the United States, Jesuit Father Matt Ruhl is leading a team of cyclists across the country for 100 days of cycling for change.
The goal of the effort is to help reduce in America, one mile at time, by raising awareness and generating prayer.
Sponsored by Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph and by Catholic Charities USA, Father Ruhl and a team of 10 other riders left Cape Flattery, Wash., the farthest northwest point of the contiguous 48 states, on May 28. Riding an average of 50-60 miles each day, the Cycling for Change team visits local Catholic Charities programs along their route, often staying in dorms or as guests in the homes of parishioners. At the end of each day’s ride, they celebrate Mass and often present their adventures to the local community. The ride will end on Labor Day Saturday, Sept. 5, in Key West, Florida.
During a stop June 9 at St. Patrick Parish, Walla Walla, Father Ruhl explained that the ride was inspired by two things: the 100th anniversary of Catholic Charities in America and by a policy paper issued by Catholic Charities USA four years ago called “Poverty in America: A Threat to the Common Good.” The 100 days of riding correspond to 100 years of Catholic Charities and will offer 100 days of prayer.
When speaking at St. Patrick on June 9, the 12th day of the ride, Father Ruhl was clear that the organizers wanted to emphasize the “Catholic” part of the effort, highlighting the many good works of the Catholic Church in a time when the Church has often been the subject of criticism.
One of the riders, Jason Christensen, CEO of Catholic Charities of Colorado Springs, said that poverty knows no geographical boundaries. Relationships are the key, Christensen said. Poverty must be addressed on the local level.
Following the Mass and presentation at St. Patrick, the riders were hosted by local parishioners. On June 10, the riders continued on through Dayton to Pomeroy, where Mass was celebrated at Holy Rosary Parish and the riders enjoyed dinner at the home of the Meyers family.
Follow the riders’ progress online: www.cyclingforchange.org.
(Cooper is director of Catholic Charities’ Parish Social Ministry office.)