New priest heads north on noisy pilgrimage

Patrick and the bike

Patrick Mara’s first pilgrimage after his ordination as a Missionary of the Sacred Heart will be aboard a 1400cc motorbike on a 4600km ride from Sydney to Darwin, reports The Catholic Weekly.

The Suzuki was a gift from an elderly priest and the trip is a way to transport it to Darwin, where 'Fr Mara will serve until the end of the year. 'One of our priests was an avid motorcycle rider for his whole life, but now he’s 74,” said Fr Patrick, 35. “He had a motorbike and he offered it to me.'

The ride will be a spiritual journey for the newly-ordained priest, who has allowed about two weeks to make the trip. 'It’s like a pilgrimage,' he said. 

Fr Patrick will travel through Albury, Melbourne, Adelaide and Alice Springs, staying with friends, at MSC parishes and communities, and diocesan clergy along the way. North of Alice Springs he will visit the Santa Teresa Mission, established by the MSCs in the 1930s and now under the care of the Divine Word Missionaries. 

Fr Patrick joined the MSCs in 2007 after a year of lay mission work which allowed him to utilise his first trade, as a plumber. '[The call to religious life] first came to me when I was about 22 or 23 years,' he said. 'Before that I was paying a mortgage; I was looking to get married and have a family. 

But there was something within me, and it just grew out of nothing, like a little seed.'

He was drawn to the 'very down-to-earth nature of the MSCs. 'The people that I met were very inspirational people, and very simple in their way of life, particularly living in the mission.'

But life as a priest meant giving up plumbing, a job he loved, and his desire for a family. Life without a wife and children 'was probably the hardest part for me to reconcile', Fr Patrick said. 'That was the biggest hurdle for me to overcome, coming to terms with not having a family. 

'Once I committed to it, and once I made the decision that I would give this way of life a go, I just felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.' 

FULL STORY New priest heads north on 1400cc pilgrimage

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