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Mike Schalk, right, of Good Shepherd Parish and Daniel Bauer rode their motorcycles May 20 at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in House Springs. The two were part of a group of riders on the Rosary Ride, in which they traveled to five churches and prayed a decade of the Rosary at each stop.
Mike Schalk, right, of Good Shepherd Parish and Daniel Bauer rode their motorcycles May 20 at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in House Springs. The two were part of a group of riders on the Rosary Ride, in which they traveled to five churches and prayed a decade of the Rosary at each stop.
Photo Credit: Trenton Almgren-Davis | [email protected]

Holy Harleys: Bikers rev up love for motorcycles and Mary during five-parish Rosary Ride

Bikers rev up love for motorcycles and Mary during five-parish Rosary Ride

Kickstands up.

Joe McLafferty of Assumption Parish in Mattese prayed a decade of the Rosary with other motorcycle riders May 20 at St. Joseph Parish in Imperial. Participants in the Rosary Ride rode to five churches in south St. Louis and Jefferson counties, praying a decade of the Rosary at each stop.
Photo Credits: Trenton Almgren-Davis | [email protected]
A line of motorcycles roared to life in the parking lot of Assumption Parish in south St. Louis County. Senior associate pastor Father Raymond Buehler, Roman collar visible above his leather jacket, led the group out onto Mattis Road toward their first destination: St. Joseph Parish in Imperial.

Kickstands down.

The riders dismounted their bikes in front of St. Joseph Parish, gathered closer — and pulled out their rosaries.

“The great thing about praying the Rosary is that we can reflect on the lives of Jesus and Mary wherever we are,” Father Buehler told the group.

Father Raymond Buehler, senior associate pastor at Assumption Parish in Mattese, blessed motorcycles May 20 prior to the Rosary Ride. After the blessing, a group of riders traveled to four more churches in south St. Louis County and Jefferson County, praying a decade at each stop.
Photo Credits: Trenton Almgren-Davis | [email protected]
The motorcyclists spent the mild spring morning of May 20 praying and reflecting as they wound through the roads of St. Louis and Jefferson counties in an event dubbed the Rosary Ride. The group stopped at five churches along the way, where Father Buehler offered a short reflection on the next Joyful Mystery of the Rosary before they prayed the decade together. Father Brian Hecktor, pastor of St. Mark in Lemay who has been riding motorcycles for about 13 years, provided another priestly presence.

Spending time outdoors on his motorcycle “moves my heart to great gratitude for the beauty of God’s creation,” Father Buehler told the group before leaving St. Joseph. “…I invite you on this next stretch to practice gratitude to God for the blessings He’s poured out.”

From St. Joseph, they traveled down the hills and bends of Old Missouri 21 to Good Shepherd in Hillsboro, then on to Our Lady Queen of Peace in House Springs and St. John the Beloved Disciple in Imperial before returning to Assumption. Before the ride, Father Buehler offered a blessing and sprinkled holy water on the motorcycles, as well as the bicycles of several children and adults who came to have their two-wheeled vehicles blessed.

Father Buehler picked up motorcycle riding during the COVID-19 pandemic. As he continued his hobby, he was inspired by Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, a motorcycle rider who hosted a bike blessing and charity ride in his archdiocese.

Father Raymond Buehler, senior associate pastor at Assumption Parish in Mattese, put on his motorcycle helmet May 20. Spending time outdoors on his motorcycle “moves my heart to great gratitude for the beauty of God’s creation,” Father Buehler told the group before leaving St. Joseph in Imperial. “…I invite you on this next stretch to practice gratitude to God for the blessings He’s poured out.”
Photo Credits: Trenton Almgren-Davis | [email protected]
Father Buehler decided to find his own way to host a faith experience for people who love to ride. “How can we bring this into the Kingdom of God?” he said.

Motorcycles and Mary

When John Duenwald goes out on his motorcycle, he likes to take in God’s gifts through all five senses. On the drive from St. Joseph to Good Shepherd, “I smelled the fragrance of honeysuckle. That’s one of my favorite smells in nature,” he said. “It’s the beauty of God’s creation through the country. We had a beautiful day, and God was definitely with us.”

At each stop, he pulled out the small, worn pouch that holds the rosary he carries with him always. “I got this from the Knights of Columbus, and they told me, ‘You should carry this every day,’” he said. “It always comes in handy. I rely on Mary a lot, so I try to pray (the Rosary) as
Father Raymond Buehler, right, and Father Brian Hecktor, second from right, led participants in praying a decade of the Rosary at the first stop of the Rosary Ride May 20 at St. Joseph Parish in Imperial.
Photo Credits: Trenton Almgren-Davis | [email protected]
often as possible.”

Duenwald, a parishioner at Assumption, is already looking forward to any future similar events, he said.

“I hope we can continue this and encourage guys from all parishes to ride with us,” he said. “I don’t want to be parochial and just keep it to ourselves. I want it to grow.”

Events like the Rosary Ride that bring God into a shared hobby or interest could be an opportunity for evangelization, Duenwald said. “Different things attract people in different ways,” he said. “Whatever it is that attracts (someone) to our faith, that might encourage them to continue pursuing the Catholic faith. It might draw them toward Christ.”

On his Harley-Davidson Road King Special, Father Raymond Buehler led participants in a ride southbound down Interstate 55 near Arnold May 20.
Photo Credits: Trenton Almgren-Davis | [email protected]
Mike Schalk, a parishioner at Good Shepherd in Hillsboro, has been riding motorcycles for close to 50 years. He finds God while riding his motorcycle through “a peace that it brings you,” he said. “It’s the clarity; it focuses everything and centers you.”

Assumption parishioners Joe and Karen McLafferty rode together on their bike, enjoying their first big motorcycle outing of the season. They were joined by their son Joe McLafferty Jr., a parishioner at St. Francis of Assisi.

“I love to ride, and I love the Rosary,” Joe McLafferty said. He also invited coworker Daniel Bauer, who said he was raised Catholic but is not practicing, to join in the ride.

Father Brian Hecktor pressed his thumb to the Rosary beads while praying a decade with the motorcyclists May 20 at Good Shepherd Church in Hillsboro.
Photo Credits: Trenton Almgren-Davis | [email protected]
“Riding in a group is fun because of the camaraderie that goes along with it,” Bauer said. While most of his motorcycling does not include the Rosary, experiencing the prayers “was a positive experience. It was a beautiful ride, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Riding bicycles, not motorcycles, Karen Bromeier, Christine Vogel and Liz Winkelman enjoyed a shorter, bike-friendly version of the event, pedaling to Mary, Mother of the Church Parish to pray the Rosary before returning to Assumption, where they met the motorcycle group for a barbecue lunch prepared by the Assumption Boy Scouts.

“I was just enjoying how much God likes us to delight in His world and delight in being able to move around and enjoy it,” Bromeier said. “I was thinking about how God the Father just loves us so much that He was happy to delight in us just having fun riding around.”

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