Father Richard McNeillie and several parishioners of St. Martha Catholic Church hosted a service to bless local bikers and their motorcycles, called the Blessing of the Bikes, on March 25. Nearly 40 bikers and attendees came to witness this community outreach event for prayer and promotion of rider safety.
The whole event took less than an hour, but meant so much to so many of the bikers and their families. All of the riders parked their bikes in a circular formation in the courtyard around the service. Everyone mingled with those that were familiar and some that were not. This event was open to the entire surrounding community, not just the members of the church.
After hugs and introductions, each person gathered at the center of the circle as McNeillie opened with prayer. Other people joined in by praying for all those that have died while riding, for our troops and those in the line of service, and other bikers that could not make the event. Next, Chuck Rodine gave a reading, after which McNeillie blessed each person and every bike.
There were bikes of many colors, some conversions and others waving the American flag. There was even a tiny Radio Flyer bike parked at the end of the line. Even the tricycle received a blessing.
After the blessing, everyone had a chance to view the bikes and share their story in meet-and-greet-styled groups. "I take my children and my grandchildren everywhere I go – they go each place that I go!” said Rodine, pointing to several hand-taped photos tucked in the back trunk cover of his bike.
He and a team once rode 12,000 miles along the west coast to Alaska and the Arctic Circle. Rodine pointed to a bumper sticker amongst his photographs and said, “There is a funny story behind this bumper sticker. While in Canada one time, I got to talking to a guy up there and he told me how much he loves the U.S.A., so when he heard me say that I am from the states, he told me he had to give this one to me. I keep it as a memento of his pride."
McNeillie and one of the youngest people in attendance, Noah Dement, got a ride around the parking lot, creating many smiles and laughter among the group.
One rider not only displayed his bike, but also artifacts and battle wounds of a monumental accident he had on a past motorcycle he owned. "I recently totalled my 2005 bike and fractured my shoulder upon turning a corner on the road. After the accident I was life-flighted to Beaumont. Shortly after that, I decided to pick myself up, buy a newer bike and make my shiny pride and joy my therapy," said Ronald Tice.
Tice and his wife Carolyn attended the event together and talked about what a blessing the weather was to the event. There were several chapter riders that rode in from Baytown and nearby communities.
Many of the riders in attendance were part of Chapter N2, which is part of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association. The chapter's website can be found at gwrra-n2-humbletx.com and includes the N2 current newsletter and calendar of events. The mission of this organization is to foster family, friendship, community and safe motorcycle riding. N2 members range in age and the chapter does not have any dues. The greater association's motto is "Friends for fun, Safety and Knowledge."It is a nonprofit, nonreligious and nonpolitical group. You can find more details at gwrra.org.