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Temperatures in the 40s and brisk winds made for challenging race conditions for the more than 35,000 participants in the May 8 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and its accompanying Finish Line 500 Festival 5K in Indianapolis.
But for 178 of those walkers and runners, the cold climate did not cool the warmth in their hearts as they prayed for an increased awareness that God has a vocation for everyone while they wound their way through the streets of Indianapolis and the 2.5 miles of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
These members of the third annual Race for Vocations team included married couples, entire families, single men and women, religious and priests. They came from across the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, and the Evansville and Lafayette dioceses.
They all wore blue T-shirts or jerseys that listed the kinds of vocations to which God calls people—marriage, sacred single life, the priesthood and religious life.
The shirts also included this statement and question to the thousands of people who saw them while running and walking on the streets of Indianapolis: “Vocation … everyone has one. What’s yours?”
During his homily at a Mass for Vocations celebrated at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis the night before the Mini-Marathon and 5K, Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel, vicar general, speculated that the words on the team’s shirts might challenge other people walking and running alongside them.
“A race is what it’s all about,” he said on May 7. “Running is the key. A run for vocations is our way to promote vocations.
“Yet many people spend their energy running from God. They hear God’s call for a commitment to marriage, to the priesthood or consecrated life. God speaks and the race is on to get away.”
Father Rick Nagel, who began the Race for Vocations team and continues to organize it, spoke during the pasta supper after the Mass about the happy witnesses to vocations that make up this year’s team.
“Look at the joy of the people and the celebration of vocations,” said Father Nagel, who noted that some 30,000 prayer pledges have been offered for vocations by the team members and their supporters. “To have priests and religious joining together with married people and single people who are trying to live sacred lives—what more could you want on a night before a race?”
Father Joshua Janko, associate pastor of St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish in Zionsville, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese, was one of the runners that led the rest of the Race for Vocations team in the Mini-Marathon.
He finished the 13.1-mile race course in 1 hour and 31 minutes, the third-fastest time among Race for Vocations’ team members.
“It was a neat day,” Father Janko said, “but it was really cold and windy.”
Although satisfied with his time considering the physical shape he is in, Father Janko has finished much higher in the past. He ran the Mini-Marathon in 1 hour and 11 minutes—and finished 21st overall—in 1997 while a member of the track and field team at Anderson University in Anderson.
But running for a higher cause is more important to him now.
“It’s the biggest half-marathon in the country,” Father Janko said. “It’s good to kind of publicly say in it that [vocations] are an important thing to think about. That makes it really worth it.”
Although he was focused on running his race well during the Mini-Marathon, Father Janko kept ministering as a priest. There were a few occasions where he would see a runner who had to stop and was being attended to by a race volunteer.
As he ran by them, he would give them a blessing while making a sign of the cross in their direction.
“One guy I gave a blessing to came up to me not too long later and said, ‘Father, thanks for the blessing,’ ” Father Janko said.
Father Janko’s own race for vocations doesn’t end with the Mini-Marathon. Earlier this year, he won a lottery to be a participant in the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 7. He is planning to wear his Race for Vocations T-shirt during that event.
Sebastian and Angela Moster, members of St. Louis Parish in Batesville, finished the Mini-Marathon about eight minutes behind Father Janko. That made Angela, according to The Indianapolis Star, one of the top women finishers from Indiana.
But, like Father Janko, the finishing time was not a top priority for Angela.
“It was awesome to be able to run for a higher cause,” she said. “It was just a good reminder that I’m not doing this for me. I’m doing it for the Lord, and trying to raise awareness for vocations and to do this for our children. It was nice as we were running to remember that we were doing this for a higher calling.”
The Mosters, both 36, are the parents of four children ranging in age from 11 to 4.
Angela has been on the Race for Vocations team all three years. This year was the first time, however, that she ran the race with Sebastian.
He, too, appreciated being a witness to the vocation of marriage by running alongside his wife.
“The shirt says, ‘Everyone has a vocation. What’s yours?’ And I thought, ‘I found mine. Here’s Angie right by me,’ ” said Sebastian. “That was an important part of it.”
Angela and Sebastian’s 11-year-old son, Caleb, spoke of his pride for his parents the night before the Mini-Marathon as he and his family participated in a pasta supper with other Race for Vocations team members in a tent next to St. John Church.
“I’m pretty proud of them because they’re really good. They’re really fast,” said Caleb, a student at St. Louis School in Batesville. “Even though it’s a long and tough race, they’re still praying for me and for my siblings and for everybody else who still needs to find their vocation.”
While Angela and Sebastian left their four children in the care of grandparents while they ran the Mini-Marathon, the seven people who make up the Kramer family, members of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis, had a leisurely walk together in the 5K.
Ron and Mary Kramer participated with their children, Max, 22, Ted, 20, Kate, 17, and identical twins, Kim and Karen, 8.
“I’m looking forward to evangelizing with the T-shirts, helping people to understand that God has a plan for them,” said Ron before the Mass for Vocations on May 7. “It’s great to be able to have people wonder, and have them think and meditate on the things that are beautiful and lovely, as we should be, rather than on the junk that we seem to consume.”
After the 5K, Mary spoke about walking the 3.1 miles with her family.
“It was just really neat for us to have all the kids with us,” she said. “It was a really joyful experience. I would like to do it again, I think.
“I hope the people read the backs of our shirts. We had our shirts visible, even as cold as it was. We wore them over our sweatshirts. I’m sure people are reading that, and hopefully they’re giving it some thought.”
Kim was also happy to walk with her parents and brothers and sisters.
“It was amazing and really cool,” Kim said. “I was really happy [to be with my family].
Ron and Mary Kramer set a good example for their children by witnessing for vocations during the 5K.
Father Joseph Moriarty hoped to do the same in his training for and running in the Mini-Marathon for the future priests that he helps to form as the associate director of spiritual formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad.
“As a Christian, I think that one has a holistic outlook,” said Father Moriarty. “To me, holiness is wholeness. And part of that wholeness is a regular physical regimen.
“Working in seminary formation, I think that I have to model what the Program for Priestly Formation would ask of students, which is to have a holistic life.”
Father Moriarty, who is also the sacramental minister of Our Lady of the Springs Parish in French Lick and Our Lord Jesus Christ the King Parish in Paoli, has run in the Mini-Marathon every year since 1994.
“There is a spiritual sense to it, even though it’s a secular event, of the unity of people coming together for one cause,” he said. “When you go up by the zoo and there’s kind of an incline and you see thousands of people snaking their way running, I get very spiritually charged by that. We’re together in this task.
“And that’s why I signed on so much for the vocation part because it’s so close to my heart. My gosh, I’ve spent the last 11 years of my life promoting vocations.”
Father Moriarty finished this year’s race in 2 hours and 14 minutes.
“There were people on the sidelines as you went into the track, and they were shouting out as you went by, ‘Go Race for Vocations!’ ” he said. “It was very nice. It kind of grounded you in the unity of those that you were running with. It reminded me to pray for vocations, and so I said a rosary just for vocations as I was running.”
(To learn more about the Race for Vocations team, log on to www.archindy.org/vocations/race.html. A link to the team’s Facebook page, where many photos from this year’s Mini-Marathon and 5K have been posted, can be found there.) †