St. Michael students rose to their feet to cheer three priests Thursday morning who entered the school's gymnasium on bicycles.
Known as the Priests Pedaling for Prayers, the clergy bicycled roughly 50 miles Wednesday night in about four hours to make it from Washington to Streator.
Their goal is to ride the length of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria in a week's time to promote their vocation, making a stop for Mass and an assembly at St. Michael on Thursday morning, then pedaling about 14 miles north to Ottawa Marquette Academy for assemblies there in the afternoon.
Dealt with snow at the start of their journey in Nauvoo and wintery temperatures throughout their trip, the team has pushed on to spread their message.
"The reason we do that is to try to get you excited for Jesus, and get excited about what God calls you to be," said Father Adam Cesarek to St. Michael students.
Father Michael Pica shared his story with students.
"When we'd sit around the dinner table at my grandmother's, she would ask (he and his brothers) 'Who is going to be the priest?' " he said. "I remember thinking not me."
Pica said he was inspired to the priesthood after taking a retreat in college.
Students made homemade signs and held them high during the assembly to encourage the priests on their trip. They also made cards for them.
Following the presentation, students made two lines for the priests to ride between as they left for Ottawa. The priests gave high fives and students gave one last big cheer for the priests as they zipped off.
They will conclude their week-long journey Friday afternoon with a finish line event in Mendota.
Friday, April 20 schedule
8 a.m.: Assembly at Trinity Catholic School, La Salle
10:30 a.m.: Mass at Peru Catholic School, Peru
Early afternoon: "Finish Line" Assembly at Holy Cross School, Mendota