Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
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First annual ‘Tour de la Diócesis’: ‘a lot of fun, some serious riding,’ while benefitting seminary foundation
by Eric Meisfjord, Editor, Inland Register
(From the October 18, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)
The Tour de la Diócesis began with a blessing at Assumption Parish, Walla Walla, the morning of Sept. 22. From left: Father Pedro Bautista-Peraza, pastor of Assumption; Dave Stanley, Deacon Mike Miller, Father Steve Dublinski, and Dave Sturgis. (IR photo)
A century denotes 100 years – except in the world of bicycling, when a century refers to 100 miles of peddling in one day.
Father Steve Dublinski, the diocese’s Vicar General and rector of Bishop White Seminary, did a bicycle century last month, accompanied by four friends, to benefit the Bishop White Seminary Foundation. Along the way the group visited several parishes and helped raise funds for the Foundation and awareness of the diocese’s seminary formation program.
The “Tour de la Diócesis,” as it was called, kicked off the morning of Saturday, Sept. 22, at Assumption Parish in Walla Walla. Joining Father Dublinski for the ride were Deacon Mike Miller of St. Mary Parish, Spokane, himself an avid bicyclist; Dave Stanley, a friend of Father Dublinski’s since sixth grade, and Dave Sturgis, who met Father Dublinski at another benefit bike ride just two weeks before.
After leaving Walla Walla, the riders wound their way through the Eastern Washington countryside toward Sacred Heart Parish, Othello. (IR photo)
Driving a support vehicle filled with repair equipment, food, water, and other supplies was Deacon Kelly Stewart, from St. John Vianney Parish in Spokane Valley.
The Catholic Extension Society had offered a $50,000 matching grant to the seminary foundation. It was up to the seminary to raise at least $33,000 in order to receive matching funds. A benefit Rector’s Dinner last spring brought in about $24,500, said Father Dublinski.
“Bicycling is one of the things that I love to do,” said Father Dublinski. “I’ve had it in the back of my mind that I’d like to do a 100-mile bike ride, but never had the opportunity to do that. So why not combine those two things – raising money, a ride, and see if we can get people to support the seminary foundation through that effort.”
He also hoped it would provide the opportunity to encourage vocations – “young men might see that priests are regular people, too,” he said.
There were no requests for pledges per mile. Instead, people are asked to simply make a donation, large or small, in support of the endowment as a result of the ride.
Walla Walla served as the starting point for a couple of reasons: its importance as a key location in the historical roots of the diocese, “and it’s my home town – familiar territory for me.”
The ride almost didn’t happen. Smoke from wildfires was thick along the route, especially in the Pasco region, where Friday night high school football games had been canceled because of the air quality. The pros and cons were discussed during the drive down to Walla Walla the evening before.
Riders alternated taking the lead during the 100-mile bike ride from Walla Walla to Othello. (IR photo)
Departing from Assumption Church at 7 a.m., they passed St. Patrick and St. Francis of Assisi parishes in Walla Walla, then headed out into the countryside. Each rider took a turn in the lead, with the others angled behind him, not unlike the flight formation of geese, with those in the lead creating a draft for the others to ride in.
The support truck followed behind them with flashing lights, alerting other drivers to the presence of the riders. “That gave us a real sense of safety,” Father Dublinski said.
They were given permission to cross Ice Harbor Dam, but for safety reasons had to load the bikes into the truck to do so. Father Dublinski’s back tire was slashed by a piece of metal on the gate as they posed for pictures.
Once repaired, the bikes stayed on the truck and the last 10 miles into Pasco were accomplished by truck, avoiding the smoke from fires, though it was “embarrassing” to arrive at St. Patrick Church there by truck.
The road north out of Pasco brought them through rich farm land into Eltopia, where a 90th birthday was being celebrated at St. Paul Church. From there they rode to a stop at San Juan Diego Mission in Basin City.
There, nature made its presence known once again with another flat. “As a kid, we called them puncture weeds. Other people call them goat heads,” said Father Dublinski. By any other name, they have “no respect for Kevlar bike tires,” he said.
Up hills and down, the troop arrived in at Sacred Heart Church, Othello, about 3:30 that afternoon – “a little ahead of schedule,” because of the truck ride through the Pasco area, he said. They averaged around 16 miles an hour (“Our goal was 15 miles an hour”).
There, Sturgis and Stanley headed back to Spokane. Deacons Miller and Stewart and Father Dublinski stayed for the 5:30 p.m. Mass, which Father Dublinski concelebrated. Afterward he gave a talk about the trip, asked for donations, and the parish hosted a lasagna dinner for them. “Great hospitality,” he said.
“I’m really thankful to the guys who participated in this event,” he said. “It was great to share the time with them, share an epic journey with them. It wouldn’t have been a bad ride by myself, but doing it with others made it a lot of fun. We had a lot of laughs together, as well as some serious riding.”
He hopes to make the ride an annual event, so that over the course of the next few years every parish in the diocese will be visited. Tentative plans for next year’s ride, during the diocese’s centennial year, call for the ride either to begin or conclude at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in downtown Spokane.
(As of Oct. 7, the Tour de la Diócesis raised $6,800; the Rector’s Dinner, $24,500. Pledges total $2,500, resulting in a total of $33,800 toward the Extension Society’s $50,000 matching grant to the seminary’s Foundation: $16,200 remains to be raised to receive the full potential grant. To contribute, send checks to: Bishop White Seminary, 429 E. Sharp Ave., Spokane, WA 99202. Donate online via the web site of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes by clicking on the “donate” button: http://www.spokanecathedral.com/index.cfm)
(IR photos courtesy of Deacon Kelly Stewart.)