The Rev. Benedykt Pazdan (right) blesses motorcyles Sunday at the Outdoor Motorcycle Mass at St. Bernadette Catholic Church in Evergreen Park. | Alison Nicol~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 2, 2013 7:30AM
Someone must have been praying for beautiful weather Sunday when St. Bernadette Catholic Church in Evergreen Park held its first Outdoor Motorcycle Mass.
When the Rev. Benedykt Pazdan began his tenure at the church in November, he envisioned a big party that would bring a spiritual component to the biker community and extend a warm welcome to parishioners, local residents and their friends and family.
Unfortunately, the pope beat him to it. On June 16 at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, Pope Francis blessed 35,000 motorcycles that were gathered for the 110th anniversary of the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Co. Event coordinator Andrea Gertonson jokingly said, “There were quite a few parishioners who teased Father Benedykt and told him, ‘The Pope stole your idea.’ ”
The Mass at St. Bernadette, 9343 S. Francisco Ave., began at 10:30 a.m. and lasted for an hour and a half. There were approximately 60 motorcycles and 125 people who came for the Mass and to enjoy the activities. The event ran until 4 p.m. and included music from the band “Second Time Around,” free face-painting for children, a barbecue and a motorcycle stunt show by L.B. Stunts.
Evergreen Park residents and parishioners Chris and Mary Schoot said: “This is really good, a great event. We think Father Benedykt is a great, fun, guy who is trying to revive the parish.”
The Schoots’ friend Diane Maher, a parishioner who attended with her husband, Phillip, an usher and a bartender at the event, agreed and said, “I think it’s a wonderful event and word is going to spread.”
There were several motorcycle groups represented, including the Christian Motorcycle Association, the Red Knights and the Blue Maniacs. The Blue Maniacs are composed of police officers, former judges, prosecutors and others who possess “the powers of arrest.” It is a fundraising organization that contributes to veterans organizations, the Peace Officers Foundation Memorial Wall and other law enforcement charities.
Pazdan, a motorcyclist who rides a Yamaha chopper himself, said that Cardinal Francis George is aware of this and has told him, “Just wear a helmet.”
According to Pazdan, “When I tell parishioners I ride a motorcycle, I usually get twice as many prayers for my safety.”