by PETER GRACE
A priest and seven seminarians cycled into Auckland on November 15 after five days on the road — but with another 2000 kilometres ahead of them.

Long-distance cyclists, from left to right: Cirilo Barlis, Matt Gibson, Thomas Park, Isaac Fransen, Fadi Boless, Tony King Archer, Fr Michael Gielen and Tien Phan.
Long-distance cyclists, from left to right: Cirilo Barlis, Matt Gibson, Thomas Park, Isaac Fransen, Fadi Boless, Tony King Archer, Fr Michael Gielen and Tien Phan.

The cyclists are on what they are calling a Vocations Tour for the priesthood. They began at Cape Reinga on November 11 and will finish at Bluff on or about December 13.
On November 15, after cycling from Wellsford to Holy Cross Seminary, they warmed down and prepared for a special dinner.
Seminarian Matt Gibson explained that along the 33-day ride, they would have a dinner in the main centre of each diocese with the vocations director of the diocese and any young men who might be considering a vocation to priesthood.
The team is accompanied by a van towing a covered trailer — for bikes and gear. Matt said they had probably just covered the hardest five days of the tour. That was confirmed by formation director Fr Michael Gielen, who said those days had been tough because of Northland’s hilliness, and because one or two of the days were the longest of the tour.
“We did 100km today,” Matt said. Another seminarian, Thomas Park, had an Achilles injury, which they were keeping an eye on.
“We’ll try our best to keep guys on the tour,” he said. “But injuries are probably going to come and go. And we have done a good amount of training for about five months, about three rides a week, which was a bit of a juggle with study and so on. But I think it’s prepared the guys well.”
Seminarian Isaac Fransen explained that they rode in two groups of four, usually with one to three kilometres separation.
“It’s safer,” he said, “because if you have eight guys in a line, then it’s almost like passing a truck.”
The group’s first rest day was on November 18 in Hamilton. They were to have a further rest day in Wellington, then another in Christchurch. The Christchurch rest day would coincide with the ordination of three Vietnamese deacons to the priesthood on December 4, “which is definitely going to be a highlight”, Isaac said.
A Facebook page (facebook.com/ vocationstour) says the team expects to sleep in presbyteries, billets, churches, church halls and possibly the odd tent:“in a nutshell, wherever they can find a few square metres of floor! Somehow we don’t think that sleep will be difficult to come by!”
From the date of this issue of NZ Catholic, the riders should be proceeding from Blenheim to Bluff over 14 days. A post asked: “Please keep coming back [to the Facebook page] and keep us in your prayers.”

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