Calgary

Biking Bishop pedals through Alberta on national prayer pilgrimage

The Saskatchewan-based Anglican Bishop is cycling from Victoria to St. John's on what he's calling a "prayer pilgrimage."

Bishop Robert Hardwick hopes his cross-country journey will promote 'unity, healing and reconciliation'

Bishop Robert Hardwick says he hopes his cross-country cycling trip will shed light on the goals of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (Robert Hardwick Facebook)
Bishop Robert Hardwick is on a 7,877-kilometre mission.

The Saskatchewan-based Anglican bishop is cycling across the country — from Victoria to St. John's — on what he's calling a "prayer pilgrimage."

"It's an opportunity to just immerse myself in prayer, praying for people, for situations right across Canada … the main themes are unity, healing and reconciliation," Hardwick told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"[It's about] unity within the church and nation, but also healing and reconciliation for First Nations people and other people whose cultural groups have gone through difficulties in the past."

The 62-year-old will take a day for every year he's been alive to complete the tour. On Friday, he set off from Brooks, Alta., for Medicine Hat.

The religious leader for the Qu'Appelle diocese in southern Saskatchewan says he was ready to head across familiar prairie territory, although it was the third day in a row he'd be biking in the rain. 

"People ask for prayers for Alberta for the wildfires, and so we've got rain, and so I thank God for that," he said.

Truth and reconciliation 

And if he struggles while pedaling down what seems like an endless road, or climbing up another tough hill, Hardwick says he'll to immerse himself in prayer.

"Praying for people who are in those times of life where everything is an uphill struggle, praying for those going through illness, and those who wonder if the top of the hill will ever come," he said.

Throughout his journey, Hardwick will be greeted by churches and community groups along the way.

Bishop Robert Hardwick started his prayer pilgrimage in Victoria and will end in St. John's. (Robert Hardwick Facebook)
He says he's especially looking forward to a June 11 event in Winnipeg commemorating the 10th anniversary of the federal government's apology to First Nations people.

"It's an opportunity to gather and pray for First Nations folks to remember the apology but also to consider the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission."

'Lost 93 pounds'

Prior to embarking on his pilgrimage, the bishop had been on a fitness journey. Three years ago he weighed 310 pounds. 

"I've lost 93 pounds since then. Cycling has been an amazing way of losing weight and getting fit," he said. 

"I went through a sixth heart bypass and I also have C rohn's , and so there are some particular medical things there that needed help. This whole journey to fitness has been one that's physical, mental and spiritual."

Hardwick says he got back on the bike because it was something that he'd done as a young man, and during his time as an English Bobby in the Nottinghamshire Constabulary.



With files from Lisa Robinson and the Calgary Eyeopener.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lucie Edwardson

Journalist

Lucie Edwardson is a reporter with CBC Calgary, currently focused on bringing you stories related to education in Alberta. In 2018, she headed a pop-up bureau in Lethbridge, Alta. Her experience includes newspaper, online, TV and radio. Follow her on Twitter @LucieEdwardson or reach her by email at lucie.edwardson@cbc.ca

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