May 18, 2018

Race for Vocations team members offer ‘beautiful witness’ of faith

Hoping to promote vocations in the Church in central and southern Indiana, participants from all generations joined in the Race for Vocations as part of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and 5K in Indianapolis on May 5. In the front row of this photo, participants included Daniel Oyerbides, left, and Harrison, Rex, Charlie, Lincoln and Nicholas Fischer. In the back row are Mandy Oyerbides, left, Brooke Fischer, Amy Johnson, Father Michael Keucher and Celeste Fischer. (Submitted photo)

Hoping to promote vocations in the Church in central and southern Indiana, participants from all generations joined in the Race for Vocations as part of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and 5K in Indianapolis on May 5. In the front row of this photo, participants included Daniel Oyerbides, left, and Harrison, Rex, Charlie, Lincoln and Nicholas Fischer. In the back row are Mandy Oyerbides, left, Brooke Fischer, Amy Johnson, Father Michael Keucher and Celeste Fischer. (Submitted photo)

By Bob Kelly (Special to The Criterion)

Most OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini‑Marathon participants run for health and fitness. Franciscan Sister Maria Faustina Herber adds a higher calling to her race day. She witnesses for Christ by joining in the Race for Vocations team.

Sponsored by the Indiana State Council of the Knights of Columbus, the Race for Vocations team welcomes people of all ages to run or walk in the Mini or 500 Festival 5K to both promote and pray for vocations to the priesthood, religious life, sacred married life and sacred single life. The Race for Vocations included a Mass for Vocations and pasta dinner at St. John Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis on May 4, the day before the race.

“I like the Race for Vocations because it starts with a Mass, and it’s a source of strength,” said Sister Maria, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration. “We are a beautiful witness that we are called to something special. It is important to witness Christ, and I think about that when I run,” said the sister, who was participating in her second Race For Vocations event.

During his homily at the Mass the night before the race, Father Michael Keucher, administrator of St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville, called upon those in attendance to find the purpose that God intends for each of them.

“We need to figure out what is the race that God has for us. We all have been given a race to run in life, and the good news is, we don’t have to run that race alone,” Father Keucher said.

“We all have a race for bigger houses, cars, jobs and all those kinds of dreams, but not for the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit has plans for our life,” Father Keucher said. “We run that race, and what fuels it is the love of the Lord, which helps us choose what race to run in life.”

The Race for Vocations was started 11 years ago by Father Rick Nagel, pastor at St. John. More than 1,000 runners have participated since its inception. Race participants wear T-shirts designed to generate a greater awareness of vocations.

“Our goal is to promote vocations in local parishes, mobilize our parishioners, pray for vocations and invite people to run for the cause,” said Father Eric Augenstein, archdiocesan vocations director since 2013.  

“The event also provides an opportunity for religious, seminarians, lay people and priests to spend time together at this event for a great cause,” Father Augenstein said.

Ethan Apsley, a Shelbyville High School freshman, said his curiosity about vocations led him to attend the Mass and the pasta dinner that followed it.

“I wanted to support my archdiocese. I have been thinking a lot about becoming a priest, and I want to help with vocations, since it may be something I may do [in the future],” said Ethan, a member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Shelby County.

Benedictine Brother Nathaniel Szidik, who discerned his calling to religious life after attending a One Bread, One Cup program at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad in 2014, attended the Mass for Vocations.

The program made such a big impression on him that the resident from Grand Rapids, Mich., is now a monk at Saint Meinrad Archabbey.

“I was struck by the interactions by monks,” Brother Nathaniel said. “Even though I loved my job in a steel mill in St. Louis, Missouri, I had something in my heart that I knew that I had to check out”

Benedictine Brother Simon Herrmann, also a monk at Saint Meinrad, was a participant in the One Bread, One Cup program as well.

“It was God’s grace that was leading me into a deeper relationship with him,” Brother Simon said. “I will be running in my third race for vocations, and through this program, it has helped me to grow in the community.”
 

(Bob Kelly is a member of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis.)

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