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Article about Kathleen Appears in the Catholic Voice

Oakland retiree to bike across U.S. in support of Holy Spirit/Newman Parish

By Carrie McClish, Staff writer
From The Catholic Voice, Vol. 37, No 7. Diocese of Oakland
April 5, 1999

Yesterday (April 4) Kathleen Smith began the longest bike ride of her life. Starting in San Diego, her cross-country journey to St. Augustine, Florida, is a 3.000-mile "thank you" message to God.

Seeds for the journey were sown five years ago when Smith fell in love with cycling at age 65. She decided to celebrate her 70th birthday by riding a bike across the United States. Always in good health, The mother of six and grandmother of eight felt the ride would allow her "to do more than just say 'Thank you, God, for my good health." She is raising money for her parish, Holy Spirit-Newman Hall in Berkeley, to help with its community outreach programs and building fund. Supporters are pledging funds for every mile she pedals.

Smith is part of a 22-member bicycle tour, called the "Young At Heart". Designed by a Connecticut couple, Jan and Al Galletly. The tour gives adults 50 and over an oppor-tunity to see America during a coast-to-coast sojourn.

The group began their trip by ceremoniously dipping the rear wheels of their bicycles in the Pacific Ocean. When they end their 56-day expedition, they will dip their front bicycle tires in the Atlantic Ocean.

Smith plans to keep a diary of her trip on a laptop computer that will be kept in one of the riders support cars. Anyone with access to the Internet can read her accounts on her web site: www.bike70th.com.

The web site also has a pledge page encouraging readers to contribute to the Berkeley parish. Donations can be as low as one cent per mile ($30 total) or any other amount, mailed to: Bike 70th, Holy Spirit-Newman Hall Parish, 2700 Dwight Way. Berkeley, CA 94705. Checks should be payable to Holy Spirit Parish Building for the New Millennium. A parishioner for the past 30 years, Smith said that Holy Spirit-Newman Hall has always reached out to the poor and homeless with such programs as the monthly "Loaves and Fishes" meal every first Saturday The meal is "just one thing the parish does which speaks of the gospel message," said the proud parishioner.

But the parish itself is in need of some extra support following an expensive retrofit of its church. So her pedaling pledges will help.

"I am not smart. I can't sing. I can't paint. There are a lot of things I don't have the talent for, but I am physically very healthy so I have to use that talent' she said.

Smith sees bicycling as a spiritual exercise. "When I ride I really honor God. I feel close to God," she said, explaining that she prays the rosary at the beginning of each ride. Smith hopes her journey will encourage others to do what they can to celebrate life. "My main purpose is to thank God for my good health. And if that gives a message to other people to do whatever they can to celebrate their lives, that, too, will be nice."

Caption from photo: "After Mass on March28, Kathleen Smith (center) addresses the congregation at Holy Spirit/Newman Parish a boat her upcoming cross-country bike ride. Paulist Father Al Moser (right) and Mary Doyle, staff members at the parish, led prayers for Smith's safe journey."
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