Priests, seminarians and lay people from the Archdiocese of Washington will be running in the upcoming Marine Corps Marathon to promote the vocations. Meanwhile the archbishops of Boston and St. Louis are making baseball bets to raise money for Caritas
A forty two kilometre run to promote vocations to the priesthood. Run for Vocations – which began in 1999 as a program of prayer and sacrifice for future priests and the Church – invites runners of all levels to join in the Marine Corps Marathon, one of the most popular marathons in the US. Seminarians from the Archdiocese of Washington will be taking part in the race, alongside tens of thousands of athletes who will be competing on a track that crosses over Potomac river. Participants will be running past major sights and locations such as the Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, Lincoln Memorial and Capitol Hill.
Run for Vocations participants will don orange tops with the DCPriest (District of Columbia) sponsor name and to raise money for the seminary, while showing another side to the priesthood.
The US has a long tradition of combining charity and marathon runs: in many cases it is the organisation itself that promotes initiatives, inviting participants to come up with ideas on how to raise funds for non profit organisations. Those who manage to raise a certain sum receive the bib they are required to wear during the race, for free. The Washington Seminary began Run for Vocations in 1999 and the number of participants has been growing year by year. 196 runners are taking part in 2013. There are two seminarians and three diocesan priests among the 25 runners who have signed up to run the full marathon. The rest of the participants will be running the shorter 10K race.
The aim of Run for Vocations is not just to offer economic support to the seminary (which received $71,000 last year); its aim, above all, is to inform people about the priestly vocation in an original way. Robert Panke said God calls us to become priests and does this through people. Everyone can do their bit to help.
“The Run for Vocations is a great – and healthy! – way to draw attention to vocations and can help young people open themselves to the joy of a vocation,” added Fr. Carter Griffin, Director for Priest Vocations for the Archdiocese of Washington and vice rector for the Blessed John Paul II Seminary.
The success of this initiative is not surprising given that sport plays such a key role in US culture. This is clear from another sports initiative that has been taking place in recent days. The Boston Red Socks and the St. Louis Cardinals are competing in the baseball championship final which began Tuesday. The Archbishop of St. Louis, Robert J. Carlson, and the Archbishop of Boston, John O’Malley have placed a wager on who is going to win: the prelate whose team loses will make a personal donation of $100 to the Caritas organisation of the other diocese.
This is an original way to join in the excitement of this great sporting event which has millions of Americans glued to their TV screens. But it is also an occasion to remind the public of what the two charity organisations do for the poor.