The theological virtue of hope played a big part in my Tour de Priest excursion this past month. At our baptism we are infused with faith, hope and love through the sacramental grace gifted to us by the Lord, and hope is the recognition that this world is not the end, that even through the sufferings and challenges of earthly life we can live with joy and confidence that God accompanies us through suffering and will bring us to everlasting life.
I must say, I thought about this often during my 270 miles or so biking down the Natchez Trace. After my first day of riding (a 60-mile jaunt between Tupelo and Starkville), I sat in pain in an easy chair at the rectory in Starkville, wondering how I would feel in the morning, and wondering honestly whether I had bitten off more than I could chew. But that was the whole point of the Tour de Priest, to be a joyful witness to the hope we have in the Lord and to radically trust that he is with us in our need.
I did complete the journey. I rode into Natchez tired but invigorated because during my bike ride I met with so many supporters of vocations, either virtually or at Mass or prayer, and it gave me great hope as vocation director. I want to thank the clergy and parish leadership in Tupelo, Starkville, Kosciusko, Jackson and Natchez for their collaboration.
The Lord’s work continues in our diocese, and he is calling laborers to his harvest. Our job is to pray for them and encourage them, and I thank the many parishioners and priests who supported this bike tour. The event rose about $8,000 for seminarian education, and it helped to publicize our website, www.jacksonpriests.com and our Facebook and Instagram feeds @jacksonpriests. It also served as a great precursor to our first annual Homegrown Harvest Gala and Fundraiser. This event, scheduled for Oct. 9 at 6:30 p.m., will be live-streamed this year and will connect parishioners to our seminarians and those who form them to be the best priests they can be. This year’s keynote speaker is Father Jim Wehner, the Rector of Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. Father Jim is a dynamic speaker and a great ally for all those who desire to bring forth more vocations in their diocese.
The department of vocations has partnered with “One Cause,” an online platform that makes virtual gatherings easy to participate in, and so we are developing our giving center as we speak and will have much more information on sponsoring the event and buying tickets very soon. Thank you for your support of the Tour de Priest, there is so much hope to be found in our diocese, and I was filled with it during my ride, thanks to your prayers.
Friday, October 9, 2020 – First annual Homegrown Harvest Gala and Fundraiser (virtual)
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if interested in attending this event.