ROCK ISLAND - Three priests are pedaling for prayers across the Peoria Diocese this week.
"We actually love to have fun," said Fr. Michael Pica, Bloomington, on Monday, April 24. "We like to bike."
They like to bike so much that they'll ride 320 miles in just five days.
"Nervousness and fear was a good motivator," said Fr. Tom Otto, Monmouth.
On the first day of a remarkable journey, these guys are really Holy Rollers.
"That's what people call us -- the Holy Rollers," chuckled Fr. Adam Cesarek, Pontiac.
What a way to connect with kids at Jordan Catholic School in Rock Island. During one of their first stops, inspiring youngsters to think about church careers.
"What's the plan that God already has for you?" asked Fr. Otto.
Wearing custom uniforms and traveling with a parental entourage, they look great on their bikes.
They began training in February for a trip that traverses the entire Peoria Diocese. After a 100-mile day on Wednesday, they'll wrap up the ride Friday in Danville.
Along they way, they're breaking down barriers about priests. And perhaps, inspiring new recruits to help battle a priest shortage.
"A lot of people don't know that there's young priests like us, who are in their 20's and 30's," said Fr. Otto. "We love being priests. It's the best thing that's happened to us."
The long ride also represents a lot of life challenges. It has a lot of ups and downs.
"When we have problems out there riding 320 miles, we'll get ourselves back up and keep rolling," said Fr. Cesarek. "It's the same way with life in general: get ourselves back up and keep rolling."
They got quite a sendoff at Jordan on Monday. As they rode by rows of cheering kids, leaving a lasting impression.
It's the kind of impression they hope to hear about a few years from now.
"Yeah, you came to our school and helped me to think about being a priest, being a religious sister," Fr. Pica concluded.
For these pedaling priests, a real message on the move.