On two wheels and a prayer - trainee priests on cycle pilgrimage around Welsh Cathedrals

Tom, Stephen and Rhun at Llandaff

Two trainee priests and their lecturer set off this week on a 450-mile cycle pilgrimage around Wales' six cathedrals.

Tom Bates and Rhun ap Robert are both ordinands in Llandaff Diocese, training at St Michael's College, Cardiff.  

They are being joined on the pilgrimage by their lecturer the Reverend Stephen Adams and will be raising money for the college and cancer charity Tenovus.  

Tom, who will be ordained in June and will be heading off to Merthyr Tydfil to serve as a curate, said: "This is a great opportunity for us as Church in Wales ordinands to get out and about in Wales, and we are keen to meet people on the way. We're asking people to pray for us and for the charities we're supporting as well as to help us raise money."

Rhun has appreciated the support of Tenovus during a difficult period in the past and has previously raised money for charity by trekking the Andes and living in the Amazon jungle in Ecuador for a fortnight.

This time, he "wanted to do something closer to home".

"Cycling the length and breadth of Wales as a form of pilgrimage, raising money for a great Welsh charity seemed a fantastic way in starting my ministry in serving the people of Wales," he says.

Ahead of the pilgrimage, the trio spent time training together at the local Taff and Celtic trails to get themselves in shape.  

The ride started on Tuesday at St David's in Tenby and is expected to take them eight days, ending at St Asaph in Bangor.  

They will start and end each day with prayer for the work of Tenovus and vocations to ministry in the Church in Wales.

Rhun, who will serve as curate in Aberavon, said: "Growing up in west and north Wales I would be on my bike at every opportunity and would love to be out in the open air discovering the rugged beauty of the Llyn Peninsula and Cardigan Bay. One thing being at theological college has taught me is the need for a balance in mind, body and spirit.

"We exercise our minds in our study, our spirit in our worship and for all areas to function fully, the need to exercise body is just as essential."

Stephen is the ideal choice as their companion for the pilgrimage, having cycled the length of Britain, the length of Wales and on several tours in Europe. He cycles 25 miles a day from his home in Pontypridd to the college in Llandaff.

"I'm really looking forward to this trip. Every tour I've done has had elements of pilgrimage about it and this should be no different," he says.

"The physical challenge of the ride, supporting one another through low points, laughing and praying together, as well as the simple rhythm of each day makes it a very special time.

"I hope that by journeying to each of these holy sites we'll get a deeper sense of God's love for the people of Wales and encourage others to consider how God is calling them to help strengthen and build up our communities and churches."

The link to the Just Giving webpage is: http://www.justigiving.com/teams/stmichaels

Alternatively cheques made payable to 'Friends of St Michael's' can be sent to St Michael's College, 54 Cardiff Rd, Cardiff, CF5 2YJ.

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