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IOCC Cyclist: Race Is About Overcoming Obstacles

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Aug 17, 2002

International Orthodox Christian Charities
110 West Road, Suite 360
Baltimore, MD 21204

Stephen Huba
Communications Associate

Bloomington, Ill. (IOCC) - The IOCC "Race to Respond" team began their day on Sunday, Aug. 11, with a morning prayer service led by Crew Chief Kerry San Chirico outside their hotel in Bloomington, Ill. San Chirico, a St. Vladimir's Theological Seminary graduate, read from the Gospel of Matthew and reflected on the purpose of their mission in service to others before the cyclists continued on their journey.

Several members of the "Race to Respond" team, including Konstantin Kanelis of Munich, Germany, took a respite from the day's ride to join with the parishioners of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in St. Louis, 150 miles south of the race route.

The five cyclists are riding 3,500 miles in 25 days to raise support and awareness for the people served by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), the official humanitarian aid agency of Orthodox Christians. The cycling team is currently riding across Kansas.

The Aug. 11 stops were among an estimated 30 events that have been scheduled all along the race route, mostly at Orthodox Christian parishes. On Wednesday, Aug. 14, the cycling team will attend an All-Kansas Orthodox Vespers at All Saints Orthodox Church in Salina, Kan., for the Eve of the Dormition of the Theotokos.

In his sermon on Sunday, the Rev. Douglas Papulis, pastor of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in St. Louis, noted that St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans (15:1-7) "tells the strong to support the weak." "Jesus breaks down barriers: physical, mental, psychological and spiritual. What Christ did should be done today," Fr. Papulis told the 400 assembled worshipers. "He came here concerned about those who are suffering, concerned about us. We too have to break through the barriers." Following the sermon, Fr. Papulis acknowledged the cycling team and invited the parishioners to join in a presentation in the parish hall organized by Nicholas Karakas and Ed McNamara, together with the IOCC Metropolitan Committee of St. Louis.

Introducing "Race to Respond" team member Konstantin Kanelis, IOCC Volunteer Services Coordinator Ivan Bojanic acknowledged the long-standing support of the St. Nicholas Ladies Philoptochos Society. "The support of the Philoptochos chapter here and those throughout the country over the past 10 years has been tremendous," he said.

"The Race to Respond is symbolic of the obstacles we must overcome in our daily lives," said cyclist Konstantin Kanelis before about 50 people gathered in the parish hall. "The barriers are within us. If we can overcome these, we can do much higher works. We do the race as an indication of our willingness to do more in faith for others."

Kanelis, who regularly trains and races in the Alps near his home in Munich, Germany, said, "When you believe, the Gospel tells us, you can move mountains. We may not move mountains, but we will cycle over them." After their morning service, the other cyclists continued their journey by bicycle toward Quincy, Ill., where Team Captain Jim Angelus was greeted by parishioners of the Quincy Orthodox Mission, who read prayers for travelers before visiting a local Greek restaurant.

Connie Shinn, the liturgical coordinator for the Quincy Orthodox Mission, noted that the "Race to Respond" visit was important because "we want to be able to show that Orthodox are part of the local community."  Leo Mueller, secretary/treasurer of the Mission, presented the team with a generous contribution on behalf of the Mission.

The following morning, the Shinn family - David, Connie and their daughters Sarah and Hope - came to the hotel parking lot at 6 a.m. to see the cyclists off as they departed for Brookfield, Mo.

For more information on the "Race to Respond," visit

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