Cyclists tour Diocese to raise awareness on poverty

July 3, 2024 at 1:13 p.m.
Father Ariel Robles, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, West Trenton, poses with the cyclists before they leave on their cross-Diocese advocacy ride. Courtesy photos
Father Ariel Robles, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, West Trenton, poses with the cyclists before they leave on their cross-Diocese advocacy ride. Courtesy photos


Updated July 3, 2024.

How does a bicycle ride address the complex issue of poverty? For 20 riders in 2003, it meant riding across the country as a part of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD)’s “Brake the Cycle of Poverty” Tour. To commemorate that ride 21 years later, five bicyclists rode across the Diocese June 15.

PHOTO GALLERY: Brake the Cycle of Poverty bike tour

A pillar of the U.S. Bishops’ anti-poverty initiative, CCHD funds national and local grassroots nonprofit organizations that serve individuals and families experiencing poverty. The program has long been made possible by the collection taken in Catholic parishes throughout the nation each November. One quarter of the funds collected remain with the local diocese for granting to social services agencies and ministries serving their communities.

MISSION ON THE MOVE

Setting off from Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, West Trenton, after attending morning Mass and receiving a blessing from Father Ariel Robles, pastor, the tour spanned the Diocese, traveling 54 miles in four hours of cycling time. The group paused at rest stops that were established at St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, and the Knights of Columbus council home in Jackson Township, ending at Visitation Parish, Brick.

    The cyclists rode 54 miles over four hours as part of CCHD’s “Brake the Cycle of Poverty” Tour.
 
 


The cyclists included Brenda Rascher, diocesan executive director of Catholic Social Services; Elise Stankus, a CCHD intern working in Rascher’s office; Mick Winters, representing a national grant recipient; Michael Phelps, representing a local grant recipient, and Brian Stankus, who represented parish donors.

Speaking to parishioners who had gathered at the rest stops about how CCHD helps those in need, the cyclists highlighted the concept of “Two Feet of Love in Action” to explain the interdependence of charity and justice. A pair of flip-flops with the words “charity” and “justice” written on the bottom reinforced the reality that a person cannot walk on one foot; two are necessary to move forward. Likewise, charity and justice must co-exist and collaborate for the Church to move forward with anti-poverty work, they said.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Representatives of several organizations in the Diocese gave witness to the impact of the CCHD grant program. They included the Mercer County Catholic Youth Organization; Mount Carmel Guild; Good Counsel Homes, Riverside; the St. Vincent de Paul conference from St. Catharine-St. Margaret Parish, Spring Lake, and the St. Vincent de Paul conference from St. John Parish, Lakehurst.

Phelps spoke about Good Counsel Homes’ driver education program, which was awarded a CCHD local grant. Explaining that the program provides a “hand-up” rather than a “hand-out,” Phelps attested that providing such a program for homeless mothers not only helps them to simply survive, but equips them with skills for the future. A handup helps someone escape poverty, not just survive it, he said.

He added that the CCHD funds helped clients by funding educational certifications, obtaining GEDs and receiving driver’s education. Phelps continued, “Through CCHD funding, we were also able to completely transform space in our maternity home, which has become our moms’premiere space for study, job searching and mentoring. These grants have literally broken the cycle of poverty for the homeless moms we serve.”

Along with local grants, national grants are also dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty and have, in the past, resourced outreach efforts within the Diocese of Trenton. For example, in response to Hurricane Sandy, the Visitation Parish youth ministry received a national CCHD grant to help rebuild the devastated community of Brick. Springing out of that ministry, Seeds of Service, a nonprofit organization represented in the cycling tour by Mick Winters, continues to provide critical assistance to those in need.

For the staff and attendees of rest stop discussions, the bike tour was an opportunity to learn more about the anti-poverty work happening in the local community.

“I really enjoyed [the] presentation( s) … all gave great witness to our faith. What CCHD is doing is a great thing and certainly needed,” said Frank Schear, Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus Council 6201, who hosted a rest stop.

To learn more about the Diocese’s participation in CCHD, visit dioceseoftrenton.org/catholic- campaign-for-human-development.

The USCCB’s national CCHD page can be found at www.usccb. org/committees/catholic-campaign- human-development.

Elise Stankus is an intern working on CCHD in the Diocese’s Office of Catholic Social Services.

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever. Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE). Thank you for your support.




Related Stories

Updated July 3, 2024.

How does a bicycle ride address the complex issue of poverty? For 20 riders in 2003, it meant riding across the country as a part of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD)’s “Brake the Cycle of Poverty” Tour. To commemorate that ride 21 years later, five bicyclists rode across the Diocese June 15.

PHOTO GALLERY: Brake the Cycle of Poverty bike tour

A pillar of the U.S. Bishops’ anti-poverty initiative, CCHD funds national and local grassroots nonprofit organizations that serve individuals and families experiencing poverty. The program has long been made possible by the collection taken in Catholic parishes throughout the nation each November. One quarter of the funds collected remain with the local diocese for granting to social services agencies and ministries serving their communities.

MISSION ON THE MOVE

Setting off from Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, West Trenton, after attending morning Mass and receiving a blessing from Father Ariel Robles, pastor, the tour spanned the Diocese, traveling 54 miles in four hours of cycling time. The group paused at rest stops that were established at St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, and the Knights of Columbus council home in Jackson Township, ending at Visitation Parish, Brick.

    The cyclists rode 54 miles over four hours as part of CCHD’s “Brake the Cycle of Poverty” Tour.
 
 


The cyclists included Brenda Rascher, diocesan executive director of Catholic Social Services; Elise Stankus, a CCHD intern working in Rascher’s office; Mick Winters, representing a national grant recipient; Michael Phelps, representing a local grant recipient, and Brian Stankus, who represented parish donors.

Speaking to parishioners who had gathered at the rest stops about how CCHD helps those in need, the cyclists highlighted the concept of “Two Feet of Love in Action” to explain the interdependence of charity and justice. A pair of flip-flops with the words “charity” and “justice” written on the bottom reinforced the reality that a person cannot walk on one foot; two are necessary to move forward. Likewise, charity and justice must co-exist and collaborate for the Church to move forward with anti-poverty work, they said.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Representatives of several organizations in the Diocese gave witness to the impact of the CCHD grant program. They included the Mercer County Catholic Youth Organization; Mount Carmel Guild; Good Counsel Homes, Riverside; the St. Vincent de Paul conference from St. Catharine-St. Margaret Parish, Spring Lake, and the St. Vincent de Paul conference from St. John Parish, Lakehurst.

Phelps spoke about Good Counsel Homes’ driver education program, which was awarded a CCHD local grant. Explaining that the program provides a “hand-up” rather than a “hand-out,” Phelps attested that providing such a program for homeless mothers not only helps them to simply survive, but equips them with skills for the future. A handup helps someone escape poverty, not just survive it, he said.

He added that the CCHD funds helped clients by funding educational certifications, obtaining GEDs and receiving driver’s education. Phelps continued, “Through CCHD funding, we were also able to completely transform space in our maternity home, which has become our moms’premiere space for study, job searching and mentoring. These grants have literally broken the cycle of poverty for the homeless moms we serve.”

Along with local grants, national grants are also dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty and have, in the past, resourced outreach efforts within the Diocese of Trenton. For example, in response to Hurricane Sandy, the Visitation Parish youth ministry received a national CCHD grant to help rebuild the devastated community of Brick. Springing out of that ministry, Seeds of Service, a nonprofit organization represented in the cycling tour by Mick Winters, continues to provide critical assistance to those in need.

For the staff and attendees of rest stop discussions, the bike tour was an opportunity to learn more about the anti-poverty work happening in the local community.

“I really enjoyed [the] presentation( s) … all gave great witness to our faith. What CCHD is doing is a great thing and certainly needed,” said Frank Schear, Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus Council 6201, who hosted a rest stop.

To learn more about the Diocese’s participation in CCHD, visit dioceseoftrenton.org/catholic- campaign-for-human-development.

The USCCB’s national CCHD page can be found at www.usccb. org/committees/catholic-campaign- human-development.

Elise Stankus is an intern working on CCHD in the Diocese’s Office of Catholic Social Services.

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever. Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE). Thank you for your support.



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