May 31, 2013

Race for Vocations team takes the Gospel to the streets

Members of the Race for Vocations team pose on May 4 outside the team’s tent in Military Park in Indianapolis after they participated in either the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon or the Finish Line 500 Festival 5K. The approximately 300 team members wore shirts that promoted the belief that every person has a vocation from God. (Submitted photo)

Members of the Race for Vocations team pose on May 4 outside the team’s tent in Military Park in Indianapolis after they participated in either the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon or the Finish Line 500 Festival 5K. The approximately 300 team members wore shirts that promoted the belief that every person has a vocation from God. (Submitted photo)

By Sean Gallagher

When Father Stephen Banet ran the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on May 4 in Indianapolis as a part of the Race for Vocations team, he was in the 36th year of his priestly life and ministry. It was also his 64th birthday.

Running in the mini marathon as a member of the team on the same day was transitional Deacon Daniel Bedel, 25, who had been ordained less than a month prior on April 6.

Two men dedicated to running a long-distance spiritual race of service to God and the Church ran on the streets of Indianapolis to promote the idea that every person has a vocation.

Deacon Bedel, a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Enochsburg, is close to the end of an eight-year journey through seminary formation, and said after the Mini-Marathon that there are similarities between the two.

“Both of them whipped me in one way or another and forced me to grow,” he said. “Both require a sense of commitment and discipline that is all too lacking in the world today. Both demand patience, practice, and lots of prayer.

“But most importantly, the only way to finish either of them is to get in there and give it a try. The only way to know whether you can run 13.1 miles is to do it, and the only way to know whether God is calling you to be a priest is to join seminary. And at least for me, I’m glad I gave both of them a try.”

Having approximately 300 teammates and other supporters of the Race for Vocations team was helpful for Father Banet, pastor of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis, not just as he ran the race, but in his life and ministry as a priest.

“Myself, being a priest now for 36 years, to see young people especially and other people joining in with that is truly supportive and energizing,” Father Banet said.

One of the people supporting Father Banet and Deacon Bedel on the team was Kate Cameron, a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis.

“Vocations are incredibly important to our faith,” said Cameron, a three-time member of the team. “This is a cause that I firmly believe in and am happy to be a part of.”

Many team members gathered the night before the Mini-Marathon for a Mass for Vocations celebrated at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis, just blocks away from the event’s starting and finishing lines.

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin was the principal celebrant at the liturgy, which was followed by a pasta dinner for the team members, their families and friends.

“The Mass the night before is an amazing event,” Cameron said. “It is absolutely beautiful. The pasta dinner is a fun event with great food.”

Deacon Bedel said that the Mass is an “absolutely critical” part of the experience of being on the Race for Vocations team.

“[It] reminds us of the true reason why we run,” he said. “It’s about giving glory to God for all the many blessings he’s given us. It’s about being part of something bigger than ourselves.”

In addition to the prayers offered up for vocations and for the team during the Mass, other supporters were dedicated to prayer during the months of training leading to May 4 and on the day of the Mini-Marathon itself.

“To know that prayers have been said … to support vocations is such a great affirmation, especially for a newly ordained deacon,” Deacon Bedel said. “And so, I’d like to thank all those who committed their prayer to support vocations.”

All five Catholic dioceses in Indiana co-sponsor the Race for Vocations team.

When the Mini-Marathon and the Finish Line 500 Festival 5K started on May 4, the members of the Race for Vocations team all had their distinctive blue T-shirts on and fanned out among the nearly 40,000 participants in both events.

Deacon Bedel saw this display as a way of proclaiming the Gospel in the public square.

“It’s just another part of the new evangelization, which ironically looks very much like the old evangelization,” he said. “The missionaries of the early Church used the traditions and culture of the people they evangelized to preach the Gospel message and spread the Good News. That’s exactly what we did.

“By wearing those blue T-shirts with ‘Race for Vocations’ written on them, we are using the tradition and culture of Indianapolis to preach the Gospel, part of which is that God has a unique vocation planned for each and every one of us, whether to the priesthood, to the religious life, or the married life.”

For Father Banet, that evangelization continued after the Mini-Marathon when he posted on his Facebook page photos of himself and some of the 30 members of his parish who were on the team.

“Well over 100 people in a couple of hours ‘liked’ [them],” Father Banet said. “You see that people are noticing it and affirming it. That is another shot in the arm for the priesthood and everybody participating.”
 

(For more information about the Race for Vocations team, log on to www.archindy.org/heargodscall/race.html)

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