Have you ever considered a vocation to the priesthood or the religious life?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Walking the walk (and running the run)

More than 150 priests, seminarians and laypeople are in the final stages training for the Marine Corps Marathon as part of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.'s Run for Vocations program.

The team members will walk or run either in the 26.2-mile marathon, the 13.1-mile half marathon or the 10K race on Oct. 25, all to raise money for a fund that covers unexpected costs for the archdiocese's seminarians. (Click HERE to read OSV's story about the program, and similar ones in Indianapolis and Honolulu.)

But the money is only part of the point, as Msgr. Robert Panke, the archdiocese's vocations director tells OSV. It's also about raising awareness that every Catholic is called to promote and foster vocations.

Participants not only slog through long miles associated with training for long-distance races, they also have meetings where they get to interact with seminarians, such as Nathaniel Hurd.

Hurd, who is in his first year at Theological College at The Catholic University of America, is training for the marathon. He joined the team in 2007 as a layman, then ran the marathon last year as someone who was seriously discerning a call to the priesthood.

"It’s a great opportunity. It open the doors to great conversations," he tells OSV. "It makes it easier to witness to vocation of the priesthood."

Hurd, 32, who joined the Church in 2005, adds that the the most inspiring part of the team is the generosity and commitment of the lay volunteers. "In their love for seminarians and priests, you see their love for Christ."

Hurd says it's especially exciting to be running for his fellow seminarians now, during the Year for Priests. "To be a part of that, as a seminarian, as a runner, as a Catholic, as a convert ... it’s a special time for the Church and priests, and I’m happy to be doing it as well."

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