A charity bike experience results in meditation, church expertise

A couple of weeks in the past, I joined about 230 others on a 100-kilometer (62-mile) fundraising bike experience, referred to as Pat Macs Pack Experience, to learn pediatric mind tumor analysis, using from my parish, St. Barnabas Church on the South Facet of Chicago, to Notre Dame Parish in Indiana.

The experience is in honor of Patrick McNamara, a St. Barnabas parishioner who was identified with a mind tumor at age 2. For greater than 10 years, Patrick endured greater than a dozen mind surgical procedures, chemotherapy and numerous radiation remedies. I didn’t know Patrick, however for many who did it is clear that he by no means misplaced his spirit and love for household and buddies. After Patrick died at 13, his dad and mom, Tom and Dee McNamara, organized the bike experience to boost funds for pediatric mind tumor analysis. This yr’s was the eighth experience to Notre Dame in Michigan Metropolis.

Pat Mac’s Pack Experience additionally offers help on to younger most cancers sufferers and their households. As well as, the muse works to boost consciousness about this devastating illness.

Paraphrasing Venerable Catherine McAuley, “Little or no good achieved or evil prevented with out the help of cash.” Now that the 2022 experience is full, $1 million has been raised for this trigger since its inception. Because of an entire host of devoted volunteers and sponsors, each greenback raised by the riders — greater than $280,000 this yr alone —goes on to analysis and households. Once more, that is solely potential as a result of time, expertise and donations of so many native households and companies — the neighborhood — standing compassionately with the McNamara household and protecting the expense of the experience and after-party in order that 100% of the rider-raised funds go the place supposed.

After a private invitation from somebody who had accomplished this experience, I made a decision to take part and commenced coaching, though I had by no means been on a experience longer than 30 miles. We left St. Barnabas at 6 a.m. once I crossed the end line at Notre Dame, 6 hours and 1 minute and 72 miles later (I made two improper turns, turning the 100K right into a 115K), I used to be exhausted, my quads felt as if they have been on hearth and but I used to be elated. And that was earlier than the scrumptious post-race meal with each hydrating and dehydrating drinks. The stops alongside the best way have been additionally nicely stocked with water and scrumptious snacks. I concern I could have eaten extra energy en route than I burned underneath the solar.

The experience was taxing, however eminently fulfilling. The combo of dialog on the relaxation stops and silence among the many miles on the Erie-Lackawanna and Calumet Path facilitated a meditation on the grandeur of creation; about magnificence and ache. Different moments of meditation centered on the innate relationship we people have between our particular person efforts and that of the teams or neighborhood to which we belong. Had I not been making an attempt to maintain up with others, or receiving a little bit encouragement particularly within the ultimate few miles, I probably would have slowed enormously and never completed as robust. It appears a lot simpler to undergo and end difficulties in life after we’re not alone.

Proper earlier than crossing the end line, I handed a big mosaic of Our Girl on the outside of the church, depicted within the orans place, a posture of prayer. It made me consider the unserious (Oh, God, not 12 extra miles!) in addition to critical prayers (Might this experience carry solace to households struggling with pediatric mind most cancers by our presence and the analysis it funds) that I mentioned in silence. I additionally considered essentially the most critical prayers that should be mentioned by youngsters with most cancers and their households.

Prayer, I imagine, is an expression of hope: hope that God hears us; hope that our request or plea or intention is worthy of being made actual, hope that God’s will and ours overlap; hope that youngsters needn’t undergo the inexplicable cruelty, immense ache and lack of life by pediatric most cancers.

This picture and its accompanying ideas jogged my memory of how the race started 70 miles west. Earlier than the 6 a.m. departure, within the care of a police escort by way of some very busy Chicago streets, we riders have been reminded why we signed up for this experience: to return collectively as a neighborhood to honor Patrick McNamara and be in solidarity together with his household and others whose youngsters are battling most cancers — a few of these households have been current on the sendoff. Earlier than the bagpipes blared and we turned unto Longwood Drive to start the race, the pastor of the parish reminded us that our coming collectively, by way of the prayers and materials help raised for these households, was neighborhood at its greatest. And he ended his blessing by inviting us all to recite the Hail Mary.

Whereas sitting down on the post-ride occasion my thoughts drifted again to that mosaic and mirrored on my first, however definitely not final, Pat Mac’s 100K experience. Though not draped in piety or devotions, or having any sacraments administered, this experience, by bringing us collectively and constructing neighborhood, exhibited a holiness on this planet that maybe enlivened Gospel service.

Throughout my six hours on the bike, and some extra underneath a tent crammed with meals, tales and friendship, I definitely skilled church, being church and being church for others. Might Our Girl, in Italy, Spain, France or Michigan Metropolis, Indiana, watch over us, maintain us protected and hasten the day when pediatric most cancers analysis brings forth a treatment. Till this hopeful prayer is granted, I sit up for this bicycle experience and seeing that mosaic of Mary, at prayer herself, on the end line.