Journeys celebrating life
At the end of July, men and women in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati were on the road. On July 28, 19 cyclist began their journey for the Dayton Right to Life annual Hausfeld ND2UD Ride for Life, a 240-mile cycling ride from the University of Dayton to Notre Dame. Across the Atlantic Ocean in Spain, the School of Faith group began its journey on the The Camino de Santiago, known in English as the Way of Saint James; a pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried.
The cyclists were greeted with delightful weather as they gathered at Notre Dame in South Bend. Several of the cyclists make this an annual event. The ride is a fundraiser for the pro-life organization, which operates a pregnancy care center and “baby pantry” as well as providing a variety of educational programs, consulting with legislators, and co-sponsoring or participating in a variety of projects including 40 Days for Life Dayton, the annual National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children and Life Chain observances, and the annual fall LifeTech Conference.
While the Hausfeld ND2UD Ride for Life has a specific purpose, the Way of Saint James is usually walked in small groups or individually. Both journeys led to appreciating the air we breath, a cool breeze to refresh us, and perseverance that bring a great awareness of God’s gifts. This year John Leyendecker led a group from the School of Faith, whose mission is to invite adults to become missionary disciples by immersing them in the teachings of Jesus, virtue, and prayer using one-on-one discipleship, small group evangelization, and large group formation, on the Camino in Spain.
The women and men on these treks bond over the arduous landscape set before them. As one rider told me, “You start talking to the person next to you, and before you know it 10 or 15 miles go by.” Each night, both groups enjoy an extraordinary fellowship at dinner; sharing stories and sights, and living outside their comfort zone. Local pro-life groups welcome the cyclists, whose accommodations between legs of the trip are on a six-inch air mattress in colleges and churches along the route. For the pilgrims on the Camino, each night means finding a place to stay in a small inn, or sometimes sleeping on the side of the road. The groups encounter new friends along the way, all with the powerful presence of the Lord guiding them though each other.
The end for most is only a beginning. For Paul Coudron, Executive Director of Dayton Right to Life, the ride leads to a love affair with bringing an awareness of how precious life is to others. As he addressed his fellow cyclists after the ride, how honored he was to do this with them was apparent in his voice. Though some were weary, there were many smiles as families came to greet riders after their trip. Their new sense of family and accomplishment were evident to all.
For the School of Faith, the lesson of the trip is how to bring the faith they found on their journey to their lives each and every day in their vocations. For every sore muscle, there was great joy in sharing the road to St. James and arriving at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. In twos and threes, the travelers walked along the route shared by millions before them, and by millions to follow. Through heat, dirt, and rain, they trekked with phones turned off, sharing their stories of faith. Father Alex McCullough celebrated Mass each day with them on the Camino.
Check out the video of their journey in pictures.
For more information on the Dayton Right to Life Hausfeld ND2UD Ride for Life, click here
For the School of Faith, click here.