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Bikes, food donations and a sunny Saturday for a blessing

Published: Saturday, June 21 2014 7:05 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Bike blessings and a food drive were held at a fundraising event in downtown Salt Lake City Saturday, "because people are hungry in the summer too, not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas," said Pat Peterso, the junior warden of the Cathedral Church of St. Mark.

It was there, at 231 E. 100 South that supporters came to "Pack the Pantry," an annual event to benefit Hildegarde’s Pantry. Residents were asked to donate non-perishable food items or cash to the pantry, which last year served 32,000 families, Peterso said.

As part of the food drive, the church also held it's annual "Blessing of the Bikes."

"That means everything from tricycles, little kids' bikes, mopeds to motorcycles, any bike that shows up," Peterso said. "The first blessings were back in the nineties because I bought a Harley and I wanted it blessed. And then I decided to invite friends."

The Pack the Pantry and Blessing of the Bikes events were held last year at the cathedral after taking several years off. Each bicycle or motorcycle that was brought to the event received a hands on blessing from the priest, and the riders then received a sticker signifying the bike had been blessed, and a medal of St. Christopher to hang on the bikes with the words, "Protect us," on the back.

"What you do is you pray for safety of the rider. You pray for joy of the road. And most of all, that they don't get hit and they don't hit anyone," said the Very Reverend Raymond Weldon, who conducted the bike blessings.

Weldon placed his hands on each bicycle and Harley brought to him, reciting a blessing, "That they be safe as they travel the earth, to keep their riders safe from all harm, and that they bring much joy in all that they do to those who ride them. Amen."

Another priest followed Weldon and sprinkled holy water on the bikes after the blessing was delivered.

Mark Niederhauser had two of his Harley-Davidson motorcycles blessed Saturday, including one that was pulled out of a large house fire last week.

"I figure this one needs it more than anything," he said, pointing to his soot-covered motorcycle. "It's just the piece of mind, and it just feels good. You can't have too many blessings, right?"

The Salt Lake City Police Department set up a bike rodeo for children, and had several of their bicycles blessed by the priest. Some Salt Lake City bike patrol officers also had their bikes blessed.

One man, who did not have either a motorcycle or a bicycle, who needed the assistance of a cane to walk, had his cane blessed.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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