By Erich Wallace
It’s been quite some time since I’ve written, and I’ve missed it and you! A little life update since I last wrote: on August 30th I moved to La Crosse, WI to start a nine-month priesthood discernment program through the Diocese of La Crosse. It is comparable to a year in seminary with a little less focus on the academic side of things and a little more focus on the human and spiritual components. We start every day with morning prayer at 7:10am, followed by Mass, then one to two classes each morning. The classes are on the Holy Scriptures, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, apologetics, a book study (we are reading The Story of a Soul, the autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux), and we have a weekly formation class to learn about different things like the Mass, the discernment of spirits, etc. We also get to work three days a week for two hours each day at an elementary school in town, have community nights twice a week, shadow a priest for a weekend once a month, and have a “cultural weekend” once a month, where we go and explore new things to broaden our horizons. This past month we went to the National Eagle Restoration Center in Wabasha, MN; Lark Toy Store in Kellogg, MN; the International Owl Rehabilitation Center in Houston, MN; and the Maritime Museum of Art in Winona, MN. It was super interesting! The final components of the program are bi-weekly spiritual direction, the ability to see a counselor who works primarily with seminarians and priests, the opportunity to work 15-20 hours per week, and do this all while living in community with other guys who are thinking and praying about the same stuff. If you are thinking about seminary, or that you may have a call to the priesthood, and this sounds like something that could help you discern, contact your vocation director and look into it; or get a hold of me, and I could help you find who you should get in contact with. Anyway, enough about me. I want to get onto the topic for this month: Biking for Babies!
When I was writing my pro-life blogs a few months ago, I was looking for some practical ways I could get involved in helping serve the pro-life mission that did so in a loving, empowering way, and the Lord put this organization in my path!
Biking for Babies started because two young men were inspired to make the spirit of pro-life work more accessible to others and themselves—trying to experience, in some small measure, the endurance and commitment that is tried upon the young women and families in the face of an unexpected pregnancy. (1)
So what does Biking for Babies do? The way it works is that young adults ages 18-39 apply to be missionaries on a bike riding team or as support staff (those that ride in vehicles alongside the bikers to make sure they stay hydrated, are getting enough calories, and repair bikes) in the late fall of the year and, if accepted, begin receiving formation, praying in community, and training for a 600-mile (if they are riders), six- or seven-day ride that occurs in July. Four separate teams start from the four different locations: Green Bay, Wisconsin; Holly, Colorado; Columbus, Ohio; and Tylertown, Mississippi and ride to the central meeting place of St. Louis, Missouri (when looking at the routes on a map, they form a cross. This is intentional!). During their time of training they also begin fundraising. All of their proceeds go directly to pregnancy resource centers that apply to be sponsored through B4B throughout the United States. These missionaries seek to offer their prayer and physical sacrifice in solidarity with those mothers and families going through unexpected pregnancies, and they give the funds they raise to the pregnancy resource centers who can offer support for those mothers through ultrasounds, counseling, and material support. Pretty darn sweet, huh?
Jessica Freund, a 2019 missionary summed up the mission well when she said,
As missionaries, we are called to stand up for the unborn. The ride didn’t really make sense to me until one of my teammates made the comparison of us riders to pregnant mothers in crisis pregnancies. He explained that as a rider we have a long journey ahead of us; it’s not easy, but that’s why we have the support team, just as mothers have Pregnancy Resource Centers. We feel a lot of aches and pains on the ride, and we know we can make it stop and get off our bike at any time if we so choose. But we don’t. We stay on our bikes, and we ride to St. Louis to ask mothers to keep the baby rather than “getting off the bike” by choosing abortion.
She goes on to say,
I realize that me riding a bike will never actually compare to a pregnancy. But it gives me a small glimpse into what these mothers are feeling through a crisis pregnancy. If it weren’t for the strength that God has given me, I know I never would have been able to complete such a ride on my own. Because I know this feat was only possible with God by side, I pray that mothers will ask Him for the same strength and courage to carry their babies to term and to get back on their bikes daily. (2)
As Jessica said, she realizes that even the grueling months of training and the 600-mile, week-long bike ride does not compare to being a mother going through a crisis pregnancy and raising a child on their own, but the point is, these missionaries are taking on a certain type of suffering, through prayer and physical sacrifice, to be able to unite their sacrifices to the Cross of Jesus Christ and to offer them for these mothers and their children. Through these sacrifices, and through the funds raised, these missionaries are giving mothers the courage and strength to say “yes” to bringing life into the world, even with all the fears and uncertainties that come along with it, rather than the terribly sad alternative.
Is God possibly nudging you to support Biking for Babies through financial help, support staff, or maybe even as a missionary?? Think and pray about it! I myself have only supported financially but look forward to prayerfully considering becoming a missionary!
If you want more information go to https://www.bikingforbabies.com/about/.
Enjoy this beautiful fall weather while it lasts! Hope to see you soon!