MENDOTA – Priests. Brothers. Passionate. Crazy?
That’s what you may think of Father Tom Otto, Father Michael Pica and Father Adam Cesarek when you hear about their plans. The trio is back at it again for the second year, biking across the Catholic Diocese of Peoria. Why? They are avid cyclists, but their purpose is much bigger than a hobby. They are answering a higher calling.
“We are convinced that God is calling a number of young men to be priests, and it may be hard to answer that call. This idea is to show them that the call to priesthood is life-giving. It's vibrant. We are here to change the perception that priests are only older in age or that their life can be lonely,” explains Father Tom Otto, Chaplain at OSF Holy Family Medical Center in Monmouth and Parochial Vicar at Immaculate Conception Church, who previously served as Parochial Vicar at Holy Cross, Mendota; St. Theresa, Earlville; and at Sts. Peter and Paul in Peterstown.
Father Michael is the mastermind behind the ride. After becoming a priest, he had the idea to take his love of cycling and turn it into a way to build up vocations across the Diocese. “We have Diocese across the state of similar size to Peoria, they have maybe 50 seminarians [a student/man recognizing his call to priesthood] at a time,” he noted. “Right now, our Peoria Diocese has a low census. If we are joyful and living our life, the world needs to see that and see what is possible!”
This ride is not a fundraiser. It is a prayer-raiser.
These three individuals heard the call to priesthood, and they now hope many others can see their ride, reflect and pray on the journey God is calling on for everyone – no matter where that may lead.
“When you are called to something and understand it, it’s beautiful,” explains Father Adam, who is currently serving as Parochial Vicar at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Pontiac. “We want to express the importance of joy in the world. We see a depressed world so often. God has a way of working on us and through us. This is an attempt to help people understand the most important thing - Christ.”
The 2018 Priests Pedaling for Prayers kicks off on Monday, April 16 in Nauvoo and they plan to cross the finish line on Friday, April 20 at Holy Cross School, Mendota where an early afternoon assembly will take place.
The ride will include stops in Macomb, Peoria, Washington, Streator, Ottawa, Oglesby, Peru, LaSalle and Mendota.