Published May 27, 2004
For Father Vincent Sullivan, participating in “Vinny’s Ride,” an annual motorcycle ride to support the St. Vincent de Paul Society, was an easy decision. It combines two of his great interests—motorcycles and charity.
Father Sullivan, a priest at Christ the King Cathedral in Atlanta, is one of more than a hundred priests, bikers and community supporters who will participate in this year’s event, scheduled for Saturday, June 5, starting at Stone Mountain Harley-Davidson in Lilburn, and ending at the business’ new location in Conyers. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., and the ride will start at 11 a.m. The cost is $20 per single rider and $30 for a couple, with all proceeds benefiting the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
“I am excited about supporting this event because I really believe in St. Vincent de Paul Society’s mission,” he said. “I was named after St. Vincent de Paul, and the organization was very influential in my cathedral back home,” he continued. “I like the Society so much because they don’t just give handouts. They take a personal interest in people’s lives and discern the real need.”
St. Vincent de Paul Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting families and individuals during times of need. The organization offers a variety of services and programs in the form of financial aid, food, clothing, temporary housing and education. An international organization of volunteers, the Society is active in more than 135 countries. In Atlanta, the Society has been serving those in need since 1903.
Though he is an extremely experienced rider, Father Vincent is far from the average biker.
A native of the Ndebele tribe in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Father Vincent recalls his first motorbike experience. “I was 15 years old when my father finally got me a Vespa scooter,” he reminisces with a smile. “About six months later, I got my first tar rash coming around a corner near my house. That was it—my parents said ‘no more.’”
However, love of the adrenaline rush and freedom he experienced on a bike wouldn’t allow him to give up riding for good. During a stint as a salesman in South Africa, he joined a biking group and began to get more serious about his hobby.
“The riding I did in South Africa really helped prepare me for the years I later spent as a priest in the African bush. It is a very dry, sandy area, and my motorcycle proved to be the best transportation.”
The natives living in the bush were amused by his hobby, calling him “Nyoni” and “Matshalela” which means “bird” and “slippery, sliding one” in a dialect of Zulu.
After taking a one-year sabbatical in North America, Father Vincent decided to transfer to the United States in 2002. Of course he brought his bike, a BMW R 1000 GS—which cost more than $2,000 to transport.
Although Father Vincent is a veteran of many motorcycle rides and rallies, including the famous Buffalo Rally in South Africa, and has made the arduous three-day trek over “the Roof of Africa,” the highest plateau in southern Africa, he is especially looking forward to the June ride through Stone Mountain and Conyers.
Join Father Vincent at the 2nd Annual Vinny’s Ride on June 5. For more information about the event, call (770) 576-4083, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.vinnysride.org. For more information about the Society, visit www.svdpatl.org.