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When the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and the Finish Line 500 Festival 5K are held on May 5, 2012, in Indianapolis, a team of runners and walkers will participate for a fifth consecutive time joined together by a common goal—promoting the belief that everyone has a vocation from God.
Father Rick Nagel, administrator of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, began the Race for Vocations team in 2008. In addition to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, the team now has support from the dioceses of Evansville and Lafayette, and draws members from across the state.
The night before the Mini and 5K, they gather for a Mass for Vocations at St. John the Evangelist Church, followed by a pasta dinner.
During the race, team members wear shirts that read, “Vocation… everyone has one. What’s yours?” After completing the Mini or 5K, they gather at a team tent at Military Park in Indianapolis to celebrate and learn how to promote vocations.
“Our hope is that thousands of people have been touched by the Race for Vocations,” said Father Nagel, “by either participating themselves, pledging prayers for vocations, attending the Mass for Vocations or by simply seeing the shirts and banners along the way on race day and thinking about their own vocation, and the call for all to live lives of charity.”
Since next year will be the fifth year that the Race for Vocations team participates in the Mini and 5K, Father Nagel has set some goals to go along with the anniversary—50 groups of participants on the team, 500 team members, $5,000 raised for vocations and 50,000 prayers for vocations pledged.
“The annual Race for Vocations team is an important way for all Catholics to promote vocations throughout central and southern Indiana,” Father Nagel said. “It is everyone’s responsibility to pray for vocations in the Church, and to encourage others to build a greater culture of vocations in families, parishes and communities.
“The Race for Vocations is just one small way to join hands and hearts to … pray for and invite others to discern their vocation, and live it to the greatness to which we are all called.”
Jose Samperio, a member of St. Mary Parish in Indianapolis, has been a Race for Vocations team member for the past three years. He thinks it is a great way to get people to think about vocations.
“When you’re running the Mini for a couple of hours, people have time to think about things and reflect,” Samperio said. “So by sending that message [about vocations], they have the chance to read your shirt. Who knows? They might reflect on their lives. I think it’s a great way to promote vocations.”
Father Joseph Moriarty, a former archdiocesan vocations director and currently associate director of spiritual formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, has been a Race for Vocations team member since its inception.
“It engages young people,” Father Moriarty said. “It meets them where they’re at in their lives, doing an activity that they’re already doing. If we didn’t have the Race for Vocations, they may still participate [in the Mini or 5K]. But they may not necessarily bring to that participation a faith perspective.”
Samperio said he would like people to join him on the Race for Vocations team, and put a spiritual purpose behind their training and participation in the Mini or 5K.
“To train for the Mini, you have to change your lifestyle for a few months,” he said. “You have to sleep well. You have to eat well. And you have to train. You have to have discipline.
“It can be a nice [spiritual] offering for a good cause. When you cross the finish line, you accomplish more than just [completing] a race.”
(Registration for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is expected to close in late November. Those who would like to participate in the Mini should log on to www.500festival.com/marathon. To sign up for or learn more about the Race for Vocations team, log on to www.archindy.org/vocations/race.html.) †