BRAZIL: Battling the elements on a bicycle for poor youth
By John Newton
2 July 2013
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 (28 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".