A trio of brothers are showing family and Church solidarity with a 100-mile bike ride fundraising effort to support kids from a poor region of Brazil who want to attend next month’s World Youth Day.
Aid to the Church in Need reported that Father James Shekelton and his brother John will set off from the family home on the outskirts of Sheffield and cycle to Manchester city centre June 28, before riding back.
The funds the brothers will raise will go to their other brother, Father Peter Shekelton, to take 30 young people from Barcelos, Brazil, to Rio for World Youth Day.
In Barcelos, where Father Peter Shekelton is a missionary, growing numbers of young people coming from outlying regions in search of a better education have ended up living in poverty.
Fr James Shekelton described the various problems confronting the young people toAid to the Church in Need, which is supporting initiatives to send groups from deprived areas to World Youth Day.
He 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.
“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.”
Fr James Shekelton, who was only ordained four months ago, 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.”
Fr Peter Shekelton’s bishop, Edson Taschetto Damian of the Diocese of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, told Aid to the Church in Need that the plan was important for Barcelos’s youth ministry, which includes reaching out to those who have “fallen victim to drugs, alcohol, violence, crime, and sex tourism”.
Speaking about his preparation for the cycle ride to and from Manchester, Fr James Shekelton said: “I probably haven’t been preparing as much as I should have done but the motivation behind it is the most important element for me.
“Even if the money raised were only enough for one of these young people to discover a brighter future, it would be well worth it.”