By TAMI QUIGLEY Staff Writer
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia put a new spin on raising awareness of vocations this summer, and one seminarian from the Diocese of Allentown was along for the ride.
Anh Do Mai, second year college student at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia, participated in the Archdiocese’s “Biking for Vocations,” a 150-mile biking pilgrimage Aug. 8-12 throughout the Archdiocese to bring awareness of vocations.
Seminarians hit the road during those five days to share the message about religious vocations.
Starting from the seminary, they stopped at St. Maximilian Kolbe, West Chester; St Joseph, Downingtown; St. Teresa of Avila, Norristown; St. Eleanor, Collegeville; St. Rose of Lima, North Wales; St. Agnes, Sellersville, where they celebrated Sunday liturgies; Our Lady of Guadalupe, Doyelstown; St. Andrew, Newtown; and St. Catharine of Siena, Horsham.
Parish visits included Mass, holy hours, prayer services and vocation/witness stories offered by seminarians, some of whom updated their progress on Facebook Live.
Mai joined seven seminarians from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on the trek.
Mai is the son of Dieu Mai (father) and Nhung Pham (mother), and said he was very thankful for his parent’s support over the summer in various ways. “They even encouraged me to take off work so that I can properly train and pray in preparation for the pilgrimage.”
A parish son of St. Paul, Reading, Mai said he wanted to participate in the event because “I did not want to miss out on such an opportunity for evangelizing and speaking to people about vocation.”
“Although I am not from the Philadelphia Archdiocese, I have worked with Father DeLacy before – he played a big role in my discernment – and so naturally I wanted to work with him again,” said Mai referring to Father Stephen DeLacy, the Archdiocese’s director of the Vocation Office for the Diocesan Priesthood.
“I was astounded by the hospitality of everyone involved – the parishioners, pastors, priests, seminarians and all those from the Vocation Office. You can tell that a lot of effort and sacrifice were made for the success of the event. Nonetheless, every parish was exuding joy, excitement and compassion.
“I feel like I have received more than given. More love from everyone. More love from God. It was challenging physically and mentally every day. I truly felt that God was sustaining all of us. And his divine providence was even more evident with the liveliness of every parish we visited.”
“Throughout this five-day Biking for Vocations pilgrimage, the seminarians shared their love of Christ and his Church, and their strong belief and personal witness that God continues to call men to the priesthood,” said Susan Matour, associate director of the Archdiocesan Vocation Office and former director of the Allentown Diocesan Office of Youth, Young Adult and Family Ministry.
“By sharing themselves so generously with all they encountered – through their vocation stories, conversations and parish gatherings, as well as serving Masses and Holy Hours – they helped create and foster a culture of vocations.
“By their witness, our hope is that the youth and young adults that they encountered will continue to listen for the voice of God in their lives and come to learn what plan God has for their lives.”
Seminarian Martin “Tucker” Brown, who enjoys bike riding, had the idea for the biking pilgrimage. The event also familiarized Brown, who hails from Pittsburgh, with the region.