REGINA — “Don’t let anyone tell you there are no hills in Saskatchewan,” said Qu’Appelle diocesan Bishop Robert Hardwicke in an interview with the PM. “I’ve climbed 119 of them so far. When I came to Canada (he is originally from England) they told me Saskatchewan was flat. Don’t you believe it.”
The bishop, along with nine other bikers, had just rolled into the parking lot of All Saints Anglican Church in south Regina, completing more than three-quarters of his Pedalling Pilgrimage of Prayer bicycle tour of the southern portion of his southern Saskatchewan diocese.
He set out from the Alberta border July 23 and reached Regina July 30 after stops at parishes and Camp Harding in the Cypress Hills. He finished the ride Aug. 1 at the Manitoba border, having covered 762 kilometres in 40 hours of riding.
“It’s sharing with people the importance of prayer and getting us to really knuckle down and be a prayerful church,” said Hardwicke. It’s also been a time in which he learned a new technique of praying while cycling, and he talked about praying for people and areas of the world that are struggling as he struggled up the 119 hills.
He expected, too, the ride would help him get fit. He reached his weight-loss goal and intends to maintain it. But mainly it was a time to draw closer to his parishes. Each stop was a time for prayer and sharing of stories with parishioners.
His adult son accompanied him, and his wife initially drove a support vehicle. An All Saints parishioner later took over the support vehicle. They stopped about every 15 kilometres along the Trans-Canada Highway for a break to stretch and have some refreshments. Safety was not a concern — “No. Not at all. God is good” — nor were there any problems with equipment or flat tires. “We’ve had wonderful weather, equipment has worked well and Dutch Cycle has been tremendous in their support, as well as Western Cycle for some of their gear.” He also received advice from them about hydration and what and when to eat. “That’s been invaluable on such a hot week as this one.”
The bishop also raised funds for the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund, Living the Mission Fund, with five per cent each going to the National Indigenous Ministry and construction of a hospital in Burundi. A donation of $10,000 ensured the goal was reached before the trip began.
“They wanted me to concentrate on prayer and being with the people and not worry about raising money. It was a wonderful gesture from a generous family.”
He intends to do the same thing for the northern part of his diocese next year. The Qu’Appelle diocese has about 30 parishes with a population of more than 4,000.