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Retiree set for world pilgrimage on bike

Intrepid traveller hopes to visit churches in at least 54 countries

Retiree set for world pilgrimage on bike
Bishop Martin Su Yao-wen (right) and retiree biker Albert Chen (middle) after the blessing ceremony
Francis Kuo, Taichung

February 29, 2012

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A 62-year-old retired Catholic teacher is set to begin a solo four-year cycling pilgrimage around the world to promote peace and the environment. Albert Chen says his tour, which begins in mid-March, will see him visit churches in at least 54 countries. Yesterday, he received a blessing from Bishop Martin Su Yao-wen of Taichung ahead of his trip at the curia office. “It will not be easy at this age … but I believe God’s grace will help me accomplish the goal,” Chen said. Chen took up cycling after being diagnosed with a tumor in 2007. While in hospital waiting for surgery, he felt “a call to do something meaningful” so he began cycling around Taiwan the following year. His interest in environmental causes took hold when he rode with university students to oppose the building of a petrochemical plant on wetlands in 2010. That same year, he rode 4,250 kilometers to visit nearly 400 churches as well as Catholic-run schools, hospitals and religious congregations. This year, Chen will ride first to mainland China, then to West Asia and Western Europe. He estimates this leg of his trip will take him 214 days and cover 14,000 kilometers. He plans to ride the Americas and Oceania in 2013, Southeast Asia and South Asia in 2014 and through Africa, Northern and Eastern Europe in 2015. So far Chen has raised only one-fifth of the NT$1 million (US$34,000) needed for the first year of his tour, which is scheduled to start on March 17. Related reports: Taiwan bishop wants a halt to wetlands building Seminar warns of nuclear threats Taiwan biking pilgrims practice ’magis’ spirit  
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