back to top
Friday, July 19, 2024
6.7 C
Sydney

They’re racing for Rome

Most read

The team presents a jersey to Archbishop Charles Balvo. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
The team presents a jersey to Archbishop Charles Balvo. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

Vatican cycling team brings prayer and work to Sydney

Cyclist Rein Schuurhuis is a real holy roller.

As the sole rider in the newly-formed Vatican Cycling Team, his main mission is to pedal the Pope’s message of dialogue, peace and solidarity.

There’s no time trials, multi-million-dollar sponsorships or an impressive roster of riders but … there is charity work, prayers and God is always steering the way.

- Advertisement -

Rein competed in the world’s biggest race while representing the world’s smallest nation last weekend in Wollongong, the pinnacle event on the international cycling calendar.

“Only recently accepted by the International Cycling Union … the team pulled out all stops to not only compete but evangelise.”

Wearing the Holy See’s traditional white and yellow colours riding against the likes of France, Belgium and Italy, he had the prayers of the Pope and Catholic world behind him.

And while he failed to finish the UCI Road World Championships, just making the starting line up under the name of the Vatican City papal residence was nothing short of a “miracle”.

Only recently accepted by the International Cycling Union becoming its 200th member, the team pulled out all stops to not only compete but evangelise.

“My main goal is to spread the Pope’s message and just competing in the Vatican’s team made me feel like a winner,” the 40-year-old cyclist said.

Cyclist Rein Schuurhuis with his Vatican Cycling Team pictured in Rome before coming Down Under to compete in the 2022 UCI Road World Championships. Photo: CNS
Cyclist Rein Schuurhuis with his Vatican Cycling Team pictured in Rome before coming Down Under to compete in the 2022 UCI Road World Championships. Photo: CNS

“Obviously I tried my best but I never thought I’d win, let alone finish the race.

“It might seem like an odd concept, but The Vatican team is not all about winning, it’s about spreading the message of fraternity and solidarity together.

“As my second home, Australia has taught me how sport can unite.

“Half of Australia’s population was born or has a parent born overseas, with an incredible mix of cultures and languages and sport creates connections that transcend these differences.

“It is an incredible honour for me to represent Vatican City at the World Cup in Australia …”

“When we moved to Rome in 2020 I was immediately drawn to the values ​​and community spirit of Athletica Vaticana.

“It is an incredible honour for me to represent Vatican City at the World Cup in Australia and while it took a lot of effort to get here, it was also a great thrill to put that team spirit into practice during Sunday’s race.”

Rein is married to Australia’s ambassador to the Holy See Chiara Porro, making him eligible for the team, as you or a member of your direct family must either be a citizen or employee of the Vatican.

Teaming up with Caritas, the cycling team along with the Apostolic Nuncio to Australia Archbishop Charles Balvo, spent time with the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation during their visit, to learn about truth-telling and reconciliation.

The cycling team spent time with Caritas Australia and the Apostolic Nuncio to Australia Archbishop Charles Balvo, visiting the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
The cycling team spent time with Caritas Australia and the Apostolic Nuncio to Australia Archbishop Charles Balvo, visiting the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

A meeting, according to Rein, which was “more important than standing on the winner’s podium”.

Monsignor Melchor Sanchez de Toca board director of the Sport at the Service of Humanity Foundation echoed his sentiments that the team will bear witness to the values of fraternity and inclusion that are intrinsic to cycling.

“Sport is profoundly human, and therefore, it has a place in the church’s heart,” he said.

“So, opening the cycling section inside Athletica Vaticana was a natural consequence of this principle.”

“Also in life it is necessary to act in a spirit of selflessness, generosity and community, to help those who have fallen behind …”

Pope Francis himself released a statement comparing the similarities between the Catholic faith and cycling.

“During a race, the whole team has to work together … if any of them are having a hard time, it is his or her teammates who help or keep them company,” he said.

“Also in life it is necessary to act in a spirit of selflessness, generosity and community, to help those who have fallen behind, so that together you can achieve a certain goal.”

Qualifying for the 2024 Olympics in Paris would be the answer to the team’s prayers, but for now it hopes the spirit and enthusiasm for cycling that Pope Francis has praised will spread beyond the Vatican’s boundaries.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -