Priest in the Columbus Diocese since 1976, Pastor at Seton Parish, and Avid Cyclist
“It is not an option not to … to survive you have to do it.”
Father Jim is referring to a hobby or passion as vital to every seminarian and priest as a way to relax and renew for your service to God. And as Father Jim testifies, your passion will enhance your priesthood.
“It is essential for me as it feeds me spiritually, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. I am as committed to it as I am to prayer and the people of my parish.”
Father Jim began riding recreationally as a seminarian when a mentor priest loaned him a bike.
After years of recreational riding as a seminarian and as a priest, Father Jim was inspired by the thousands of riders that poured into Portsmouth, Ohio as part of the TOSRV – Tour of the Scioto River Valley, 2-day, 200-mile bike ride from Columbus, Ohio to Portsmouth, Ohio. Father Jim was the Associate – pastor at St. Mary’s, Portsmouth at that time.
“I said to myself, I’ll never watch this again. I am going to do it!”
Father Jim trained with a priest friend and some parishioners. He completed his first TOSRV in 1982.
In 1991, while serving as pastor in Marion, Ohio, Father Jim was again inspired—this time by a parishioner who completed a cross-country cycling trip.
“I talked to Bishop Griffin about training for a cross-country ride to celebrate my 25 years as a priest. I told him I wanted to start the next stage of my priesthood in the best possible shape I could be in. The Bishop said ‘go for it.’ ”
It took a couple of years to train, but Fr. Jim completed the trip from Astonia, Oregon to Portsmouth New Hampshire in 2001.
On his cross country trip, he had a web page on which he kept a journal of his daily progress along with daily photos. People from all over the world followed his progress as he made his trek, and kept in touch with him via e-mails. The name of his page was “padrerider.com.” It is a name that has stuck, and he is still affectionately known as the “padre rider.”
“It changed my life in so many ways. I became a better, stronger cyclist, and the challenges you face along the way enrich you and make you a stronger person.”
Father Klima takes one or two longer cycling trips every year in different parts of the country. He has become connected with a cycling organization in Colorado. Last year he helped lead a trip through the Cascades in the state of Washington and he hopes to do it more as he get older and describes it as a ‘second career’ when he retires.
Father Klima also talks about how his cycling experiences “feed his preaching.”
“Well, during Advent, one of the readings referred to the desert and I talked about my journey through the mountain passes, and how as I came out of the tree line and into the open meadows, the flowers were blooming and it inspired me to reach the top of the pass.”
Father Klima reminds those discerning the priesthood that “God works with us and with what we love.”
“It is all connected – priest – cyclist – love – the cycling feeds and nourishes me as a priest.”
Cycling has also changed the way Father Klima looks at the way we use the world’s resources.
“Cycling is also a great witness to our parish communities about not just staying healthy, but also that we do not have to be so dependent upon fossil fuels to get around. When you cycle in other parts of the country, you begin to see how much further along other cities are than central Ohio in terms using their bikes for real transportation. The impact of doing this will be great for the environment, and even greater for our health.”
“Yes, I have great passion for cycling. It has been the source of so much life that has truly fed and nourished me in my 31 years as a priest.”