‘Why we’re doing this’ — Father Pica explains ‘Priests Pedaling for Prayers’ ride
EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is an excerpt from the homily given by Father Michael Pica at Holy Cross Church in Champaign on Friday, April 28, the final day of “Priests Pedaling for Prayers.” In it, he explained to the students of Holy Cross School why he was riding across the Diocese of Peoria with Father Adam Cesarek and Father Tom Otto and what would make the effort successful.
The song he refers to in the third paragraph, “Riding for the Lord,” is sung to the tune of “They’ll Know We Are Christians” and has special lyrics written by Alisa Ramer, music teacher at Immaculate Conception School in Monmouth. The children at Holy Cross sang it as the entrance song for Mass.
If we were doing this for our own pride, I would have stopped after day two. I would not have made it to day five, just because I’ve never been this sore so long. But I know that what has helped us go this far, so far, and finishing in Danville today, is the prayers of the good people of the Diocese of Peoria and your prayers here.
You see, growing up here in Holy Cross, I started to know and learn about prayer. I remember preparing for confirmation and that great receiving of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which helped me to know God’s will for me. While it didn’t happen until much later, the foundation started here at Holy Cross, that foundation of prayer. Those are the prayers we’ve been asking for all week long, the prayers we ask you to pray for vocations.
We know that our suffering will not be in vain as long as this is all for God. As you sang, we are riding for the Lord because we couldn’t do this on our own. . . . We’re doing this all for the Lord because we know prayer and suffering brings about great fruit. We may not see it for a generation or maybe two, but that’s our hope.
Our hope is that some of you out there, some of you from my own home parish, Holy Cross, will feel the call, will know God’s voice and hear him say to you, “Be my priest. Be my religious Sister. Be a good, holy husband or be a good, holy wife.” This is why we’re doing what we’re doing. It’s because we know that through the prayers of the good people of our diocese more people will hear God’s voice and be willing to respond.
Just as the apostles went out and continued to preach Christ, persecution after persecution, so too will we pedal, because we ride together as brothers with a purpose for more prayers for vocations. That’s what we ask for.
Today I want to challenge you in two ways. In your time of prayer today in front of Jesus, pray a prayer, one, for yourselves, that you may hear God’s voice, and two, that those around you may hear God’s voice. . . . The more disciples of Christ we have in the world, the more people we have listening and heeding Jesus’ voice.
I’m asking you to continue your prayers. Continue praying for good priests in our diocese, for good religious Sisters, and good, holy marriages.