Battling the elements on a bicycle for Brazil’s poor

By John Newton
BRACING wind, rain and stormy conditions in the Peak District, a priest undertook a 100-mile bicycle ride to raise funds to send youngsters from a poverty stricken part of Brazil to World Youth Day.
Fr James Shekelton – accompanied by his brother John and Albert Font, a young parishioner from St Marie’s Cathedral, Sheffield – completed the cycle ride from Sheffield to Manchester city centre and back last Friday (28th June).
All the money raised will help Fr James’ other brother, Fr Peter Shekelton, take 30 deprived young people from Barcelos, Brazil to Rio for the Catholic festival at the end of this month.
Fr James Shekelton, a priest of Hallam Diocese, described the gruelling 12-hour ride battling against the elements.
He said: “We set off from Sheffield at 6.30am and arrived back in Sheffield for 6.30pm, pretty much non stop.
“As far as the weather was concerned it couldn’t have been a worse day – winds, rain and cold. We were very tired but satisfied on reaching the goal we had set.”
Fr James Shekelton spoke about the various problems confronting young people in Barcelos to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, which is supporting initiatives to send groups from deprived areas to World Youth Day.
His brother, Fr Peter Shekelton, is a missionary priest in Barcelos working with growing numbers of young people who have ended up living in poverty – and some have turned to crime and the city’s sex tourism trade to support themselves.
Fr James Shekelton said: “A lot of the time their lives are stricken with violence, drugs, prostitution, many even attempt suicide – I understand the region has the highest suicide rate among young people.
“It is terrible that so many young people would think of committing suicide and I think that drives home, all the more strongly, how bad the situation is – that a young person with their whole life in front of them would even think of taking it away.”
He thanked those who had sponsored the cycle ride for the young people, saying: “People have been very good in supporting the effort and very generous at making contributions.”
Fr James Shekelton, who was only ordained last December, added: “The work that my brother [Peter]’s doing is admirable and the effect his work is having in Barcelos and the surrounding regions is quite amazing.”
“Taking them to experience what World Youth Day’s all about – which is the whole encounter in the Faith and seeing other young people enthuse about the Faith – will hopefully open their eyes and show them there’s much more to life.”

• To help send disadvantaged young people from Brazil to World Youth Day please write to Aid to the Church in Need, 12-14 Benhill Avenue, Sutton Surrey SM1 4DA or call 020 8642 8668, and ask for the donation to go to “Bike ride for Brazil”.

Editor’s Notes

Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Blessed John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in about 130 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 172 languages and more than 50 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell, near Glasgow.

While ACN gives full permission for the media to freely make use of the charity’s press releases, please acknowledge ACN as the source of stories when using the material.

For more information, contact John Pontifex, ACN UK Head of Press and Information 020 8661 5161 or John Newton, ACN Press Officer, 020 8661 5167.