They pedal their way around the downtown streets on three-wheel bikes, stopping only to offer goods to the homeless men and women they encounter: coffee, snacks, toiletries and various personal items. Most of all, they offer companionship and the love of Christ.
They are the Mercy Pedalers of Sacramento, Calif., a small but intrepid group of volunteers led by Sister Libby Fernandez — a Sister of Mercy, appropriately enough. Each day they bring gifts and cheer to some 80 of the city’s street people.
It’s an apostolate that has the full support of the Knights of Columbus of St. John Paul II Assembly 3504 and Laguna Council 11236, which have established an annual contribution toward Mercy Pedalers.
The Mercy Pedalers’ philosophy is this: Treat men and women experiencing homelessness with dignity, respect and love. And in doing so, God’s mercy will be present. According to the group’s website, the ministry is “based on the Works of Mercy” and emphasizes “Welcoming the Stranger.” Sister Fernandez founded the apostolate after retiring from Loaves and Fishes, another ministry she had directed.
Larry Stanton, faithful comptroller of the Laguna Council, first learned of Mercy Pedalers and Sister Fernandez from a local news report on their work. A week later, while waiting for his medical appointment, he happened to see an article about Sister Fernandez in a magazine. He figured it was more than just coincidence.
“I thought that was odd and immediately felt that I should bring her programs up at our next assembly and council meetings,” Stanton said. “I did, and got a lot of support.”
He proposed that individual Knights begin to save their “loose change” for a few months as a collection for Mercy Pedalers. Through this informal and low-key process, they collected some $300.
Last Christmas Eve, Stanton met with Sister Fernandez and delivered the council’s contribution.
“I was invited into her home, and she cheerfully explained her mission and displayed her Mercy Peddler three-wheeled bikes,” he said. “I was impressed by her commitment to the program.”
The council’s new relationship with Mercy Pedalers has borne additional fruit as Knight Terrence Burke and his wife are planning to join her team of volunteers. “They feel her programs are awesome,” Stanton said.
The council and assembly will continue with an annual contribution to Mercy Pedalers “most likely in a similar fashion to last Christmas’s donation,” he added.
Gerald Korson, a veteran Catholic editor, is a Knights of Columbus member in Indiana.
Originally published in a weekly edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. To access Knightline’s monthly archives, click here. To share your story, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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