Riding missionaries bike for babies

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Parishioners from St. Mary Parish in Oskaloosa visit with members of Biking for Babies during their stop at the parish July 14. The groups biked from Minnesota to St. Louis to raise money for pro-life organizations.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

Jonathan Simpson of Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine completed his seventh year as a riding missionary with the Biking for Babies national ride earlier this month. The ride raises money for pro-life organizations.

Biking for Babies (B4B) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to renew the culture of life in America, one pedal stroke and one pregnancy resource center at a time, he said. Each B4B young adult missionary is paired with a life-affirming pregnancy resource center or maternity home on a one-to-one basis. Missionaries learn about the services that centers offer and hear the stories of lives saved and lost, he noted. Missionaries set out to raise awareness and funds for their center. “With that awareness we want to have more women going to the centers. We want to help offset that cost so the centers stay open. We also fundraise for these centers,” Simpson said.

“I joined on a whim seven years ago. Some may say God called me and I just didn’t know it. I needed some way to be involved in the pro-life movement as, fortunately, there weren’t any abortion clinics near where I had lived. I hadn’t known what pregnancy resource centers were before this and I don’t think many people do, but I learned after my first year when I was able to get a tour,” he said. “It really showed me where the front lines of this fight are and made me want to keep helping so that more people knew about them and I could learn more myself.”

Missionaries participate in a pro-life formation program as well as train and prepare for the national ride, which takes place each July. The journey covers 600-plus miles in six days. The route varies each year, with multiple routes the same week. “The national ride is a big opportunity for missionaries to advocate for their pregnancy resource center and to be leaders in renewing the culture to one that respects and values each human life,” Simpson said. Young adults ages 18-39 may participate as support crew or riders. Money raised along the way goes to Biking for Babies and to pregnancy resource centers. A member of the Knights of Columbus, he said his council has always helped with his fundraising.

St. Mary Parish in Oskaloosa was one of the stops along this year’s ride. “They chose our parish as I know one of the bicyclers (Simpson) from my former assignment in Muscatine,” said Father Troy Richmond, pastor of St. Mary parishes in Oskaloosa and Pella.

“There was a handful of host families and the Knights of Columbus provided a meal for them (bikers and hosts), followed by a presentation.” The Knights of Columbus presented Biking for Babies with a check for $250.

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