Run for Vocations Supports Seminarians at Marine Corps Marathon

October 24, 2013

Run for Vocations, a group of priests, seminarians and lay people from the Archdiocese of Washington, will run the Marine Corps Marathon and 10K on Oct. 27, 2013, as a way to pray and sacrifice in support of future priests and the Church.

The 2013 Run for Vocations team is made up of 196 participants. This year 25 individuals will run in the full marathon and 171 will participate in the 10K. Three priests and two seminarians are registered to run the marathon.

Father Michael Paris, who serves as parochial vicar at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Rockville, Md., is running the marathon and leading a group of 20 members of his parish who are participating in the Run for Vocations. In addition to running in support of the seminarians, they also will be running in memory of Karen Jones, a member of St. Patrick’s who passed away on Sept. 28, 2013. Jones ran the marathon in 2010 before being diagnosed with cancer and participated in the 10K in 2012. Running the marathon was a strong spiritual experience for Jones, and she carried a class photo of the archdiocesan seminarians when she ran.

“Karen Jones was one of my closest friends in the parish and her enthusiasm made me so excited to take part in Run for Vocations. On the hardest days of my training, I would think of Karen, her love for life and how she did her training and completed the marathon in 2010 while she had lung cancer and didn’t even know it,” said Father Paris. “Last spring as her treatments began to stop working, I pledged to her that I would do the marathon and would offer the endeavor for her. About two-thirds through my training regimen, I hurt my left knee, which was in so much pain that I could barely walk. After taking a week off, I was sure I would not be able to do the marathon. After Karen passed away, I asked for her help, got a little knee strap and since then I have been fine with no knee problems. I pray this continues on race day. And if I make it, I know it’s because she is watching out for me and running with me.”

Run for Vocations began in 1999 as a program to pray and sacrifice for future priests in the Archdiocese of Washington and the Catholic Church. Every year priests, seminarians and lay people of all levels of experience are encouraged to join the marathon and the 10K as runners or walkers and to enlist donations from supporters. Each runner has a minimum fundraising goal of $500 for the full marathon and $250 for the 10K, which are significantly lower than what’s required of other charity teams. The funds raised are used to cover unexpected expenses for seminarians, such as medical costs, travel expenses in the event of a family emergency and spiritual enrichment opportunities. Last year the team raised over $71,000.

“God calls people to the priesthood, and he uses other people to do that. Everyone is supposed to help call forth men to the priesthood,” said Monsignor Robert Panke, rector of the Blessed John Paul II Seminary and the Director of Formation for seminarians of the archdiocese. “Through the New Evangelization, we can build a culture of vocations. This program enables the participants to grow in holiness by offering prayers and sacrifices for the good of our future priests and the Church.”

“Promoting vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life is the work of the whole Church. Our goal is to create an environment in our families, parishes and schools where these vocations are encouraged and nurtured,” said Father Carter Griffin, Director for Priest Vocations for the Archdiocese of Washington and the vice rector for the Blessed John Paul II Seminary. “The Run for Vocations is a great – and healthy! – way to draw attention to vocations and can help young people open themselves to the joy of a vocation.”

In many respects, life as a seminarian is similar to that of other students. Seminarians take classes with a particular emphasis on philosophy and theology and enjoy time with other students on campus, both male and female, and especially with their brother seminarians. However, due to the unique characteristics of a priestly vocation, they live by a rule of life that assists them as they grow in virtue and the interior life. It includes daily Mass, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, evening prayer, regular conferences, days of recollection, apostolic work and devotions as well as ample time for study and recreation. The family atmosphere of the seminary is a school of charity and a way to grow in the human virtues that are an indispensable preparation for priestly work.

Currently almost 80 men are preparing to become priests for the Archdiocese of Washington. Seminary studies typically take five or more years. To learn more about the Archdiocese of Washington Priest Vocations, please visit

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 96 Catholic schools, located in Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

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