April 20, 2012

Running is a family, spiritual affair for St. Mark parishioners

Shelley, Josef, Joshua and Daniel Herkert, members of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, pose for a family photo in their home. Shelley, Josef and Daniel will be part of the fifth annual Race for Vocations team when they run the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on May 5 in Indianapolis. Joshua will support his family as part of a cheering section for the team during the 13.1-mile race. (Submitted photo)

Shelley, Josef, Joshua and Daniel Herkert, members of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, pose for a family photo in their home. Shelley, Josef and Daniel will be part of the fifth annual Race for Vocations team when they run the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on May 5 in Indianapolis. Joshua will support his family as part of a cheering section for the team during the 13.1-mile race. (Submitted photo) Click for a larger version.

By Sean Gallagher

Daniel, Shelley and Josef Herkert will be just three of the nearly 35,000 participants in the May 5 running of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and the Finish Line 500 Festival 5K.

But they will run on the streets of Indianapolis with a definite purpose in mind. T-shirts they will wear during the race will share the message that every person has a vocation.

The Herkerts, members of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, are doing this as part of the fifth annual Race for Vocations team co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and the Evansville and Lafayette dioceses.

A senior at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, Josef has run the Mini every year since the eighth grade—sometimes finishing in just over an hour and a half for the 13.1-mile course.

He is glad this year to add a spiritual meaning to his participation in the nation’s largest half-marathon.

“It’s cool,” said Josef, who is a member of Roncalli’s cross country team. “It makes people think about it when you put on that T-shirt. It could be a self-awakening moment, I guess.”

Josef was encouraged to run at a young age by his mother, Shelley, who has been a runner since her grade school days.

Shelley said that the pastime is an opportunity for prayer.

“It is quiet time for me,” she said. “It’s a happy time for me. It’s a time for me to sort out problems. And the way I do that is by praying. It’s when I feel very close to God, not only because it is quiet, but I’m also outside in his creation.”

As Josef started making strides as a runner, Shelley encouraged him to see it as a time for prayer as well.

“We were starting to get up to five or six miles. I’d start to get bored,” Josef said. “Then she would say, ‘Go ahead and try praying the rosary or just repeat prayers.’ It really helps.”

Now he is glad to offer those prayers not just for himself, but for others and for vocations.

“I know that it’s very important to live your life [with faith],” Josef said. “The prayers for vocations help other people figure out what they want to do with their life.”

Josef’s father, Daniel, isn’t as much of a runner as his son and wife. This will be the third year that he runs in the Mini. The first two times were largely for himself. Now he is glad to have a higher purpose.

“This is kind of a different focus,” Daniel said. “We’re going to run together as a family for the first time. And having a purpose with it for vocations is kind of neat. It gives you an opportunity to experience something for the Church at the same time.”

The Race for Vocations Team involves more than just the participants in the Mini and the Finish Line 500 Festival 5K. There will also be cheering sections for the team at various points along the route with people holding up signs promoting vocations.

Joshua Herkert, a sophomore at Roncalli, will be part of that group supporting his family.

“I think it’s pretty cool to cheer on the commitment to vocations and to inspire a large amount of people,” Joshua said.

So far, more than 300 people have signed up to be part of the Race for Vocations Team. Josef is glad to share the message about vocations with so many other people.

“When there is a whole group of people and they’re racing, you see the tremendous support behind the group,” Josef said. “It’s really inspiring.” †

 

Related: New Race for Vocations team members are still welcome; prayer pledges still accepted

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