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Motorcycles blessed at St. Joseph's Catholic Church

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Chad Harvey from Belleville came with friends to have his motorcycle blessed Saturday morning by Father Shea, pastor at St. Joseph's Church, Belleville. Motorcycle riders of all denominations asked God for protection for themself and those they share the rode with. Photo by Gail Paquette

By Gail Paquette

Motorcycle Riders of all denominations began their riding season on a spiritual note.

Encircled in sun blinding chrome, their pews the leather padding of their banana seats, a group of motorcycle riders gathered last Saturday morning at St. Josephs Church in Belleville for the Blessing of the Motorcycles.

Rider David Ludwig and his partner Bunty Folwell came up with the idea for the local service.

Ludwig has attended several blessings in the past in his travels to the southern USA and thought it would be great to bring the tradition here. He approached Father Shea, pastor of St. Joseph’s with the idea.

Riding in on a Harley Ultra Classic Limited, Ludwig has been on the open road since 1962.

“It takes me four hours just to polish up the chrome on that, ” he said.  “It has everything on it but an air conditioner.”

After Shea welcomed the group outside the church, he read from The Book of Blessings. The book originated in Latin form hundreds of years ago. The 1981 English edition has blessing for approximately 300 inanimate objects, including buses, taxis and cars.

Shea read the opening prayer of the Blessing of the Motorcycles, asking God’s protection for those who ride. The drivers responded in unison praying for protection of themselves and those they share the road with.

A procession ensued with the motorcycle riders circling the church’s parking lot and stopping before the priest for a sprinkling of holy water.

Shea presented each rider with a St. Christopher’s medal shaped like a key.

“There is a patron saint for just about everything, “ said Shea.  “St. Christopher is the patron saint of the traveller”

Not everyone was a member of the congregation; the commonality was the desire to be protected, safe and courteous on the road with help from God.

Kawasaki Concours rider Bill Nash from Tweed embraced the idea, “Its nice to have the big guy on our side.” he said. “I’m a true believer.”

“Bikers aren’t really perceived as churchgoers, “ said rider Charles Tapp from Belleville. “An event like this shows us how inclusive the church is. We are not in a building, today the Lord is on our side.”

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