Our Appeal to raise money for a dinghy to transport Tertiaries and others in PNG was launched in January. We are almost there, with over $9,000 in the bank; almost another $2,000 is needed.
Nearly $3,000 of this was raised by John Clarkson (Minister NSW-B). The Province congratulates John for a terrific effort, the centrepiece of which was a bikeathon on the Eve of the Feast of St Francis.
Read on to be inspired, encouraged and challenged.
BATHURST 3000 FOR THE DINGHY APPEAL
by Father John Clarkson tssf, 134 Mitre St., Bathurst, 2795 NSW
The day started cold and threatening clouds were looming. Previous days had brought us intermittent rain. It was the eve of St. Francis Day, Saturday October 3rd. Franciscans keep that day as a remembrance of the death of St. Francis prior to celebrating his birth to new life the next day. So we experienced a Eucharist of remembrance. Francis always regarded his death as a joyous occasion. He praised the Lord in a great joyful outburst of body and soul praising Sister Death. He exhorted death itself to give praise, and going joyfully to meet it; he invited it to make lodging with him. What a hopeful spirit for us all! After the Eucharist and breakfast my bikeathon began.
Eight of us started. Apart from a couple of adults, my companion cyclists were members of our youth group. One of them had gained sponsors from teachers and fellow students at school. About ten well wishers gathered to see us off at 10.30 a.m. One of cyclists was in a bit of hurry as he was being presented a sporting trophy that morning. The route was about 20 kms around Bathurst and for safety reasons and encouragement, I decided to ask people to stand around the course where there was a break in the course between road and bicycle track. One of my route markers who was halfway round and at the end of six kms of open twisty and hilly road provided us with a carton of water bottles; very much appreciated.
Our cyclist in a hurry beat the markers to their position and completed the course in 70 minutes. It took me 100 minutes! One of our adult cyclists was riding a collapsible bike which unfortunately soon after we started collapsed under her so she had to walk back!
We had a couple of support vehicles with signs borrowed from the Cycle Club. The one behind us protected us from fast cars along the Drive. The last 10 minutes of my ride was tolerable rainy conditions. There were about 15 people in my team and I am very grateful to them and sponsors for their astounding support.
The route started and finished at Peace Park with six route markers and two support vehicles. By the time I returned and I was not last, the Sausage Sizzle was well underway. About 30 people clapped me in! They must have thought I was not going to make it and their money would be safe!
The response to the bikeathon has been quite amazing.
I started thinking about the possibility in June. I obtained insurance cover from the Parish and permission both from the Regional Council and the Police. I have been riding a bike on and off for about 20 years. My bike became a bit fragile but the family encouraged me to use my Government stimulus package to buy a new one to assist the economy.
Recently I have become a reluctant cyclist because we live at the top of a hill and the bike tracks are on lower levels. This bikeathon will encourage me to make more of an effort. One of our riders suggested we make it an annual event. We shall see.
The response has both been a financial success as well as good for fellowship in the Church. In other words riders and supporters enjoyed themselves.
All of us who are members of the Third Order of St. Francis decided that we wanted to help our brothers and sisters in Papua New Guinea when we heard that they were not able to have fellowship together, visit coastal and river communities for works of evangelism and also transport emergency cases to hospital. There are few roads.
What they needed for was an ocean-going fibreglass craft which would cost about $6000 and the engine would be $5000. They would also need money to do repairs and purchase fuel. It should be possible to easily obtain this money. I set myself a target of $2000 but we are approaching the $3000 mark at this moment and money is still coming in. I have made it known to church members here in Bathurst but also where I have preached about St. Francis, to parishes where I have done locums, organisations I am involved in, relatives and friends. Lorraine has been my secretary and treasurer. So far we can account for about $2695.85 and there are a few more promises to come. If anyone has not responded and would like to make a donation of goodwill to this bikeathon, please send me a cheque. So far we have over half the amount required to buy this boat and hopefully the appeal will be able to be concluded by the end of the year.
Therefore, my fellow Franciscans, if you have not yet supported this appeal and regard it as important, support my effort, or use your own skills, church and friends to raise significant amounts of money. There are many equally important calls on our money but this craft is regarded as one of them. Thank you to so many of you who have been so generous.