Bishop Thomas John Paprocki will be travelling to Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 15 to run the Kansas City Marathon with LIFE Runners, a team of pro-life runners dedicating to spreading the Gospel of Life and raising funds for pro-life charities. October is, of course, the month the Catholic Church celebrates life from birth to natural death.
Bishop Paprocki runs one marathon a year for pledges — this is his 18th marathon since 1995 — and then donates that money to charity. Last year, for example, he ran the Denver Marathon and donated the funds to retire the debt for the renovation of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
“I like to run in different places and I have chosen Kansas City for my 2011 marathon,” said Bishop Paprocki, who has run in Boston, Chicago, Rome and Athens, among other places. Bishop Paprocki and the other LIFE Runners will be wearing jerseys bearing pro-life messages.
Lt. Col. Pat Castle, who is stationed at Scott Air Force Base near St. Louis and is the co-founder of the LIFE Runners, said he was thrilled to have Bishop Paprocki take part in the marathon. Bishop Paprocki will be the first bishop to compete with the LIFE Runners, he said.
This is the fourth year that LIFE Runners will compete in a marathon. Each runner is striving to earn $250 toward the team goal of $25,000 for a Sioux Falls Alpha Center Fleet for Little Feet pregnancy help bus that travels to rural areas in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota, offering counseling and free ultrasounds.
Some of fundraising above the goal will be donated to the Kansas City Wyandotte Pregnancy help bus. However, Bishop Paprocki has decided that his funds in excess of $250 will go to local pro-life causes in the Springfield diocese.
Castle said that LIFE Runners will have a lot of company during the run. There are already 136 runners signed up for this year’s team. Participants are coming from 19 different states, as well as Canada, England, Kenya and Turkey.
A few of this year’s runners are as young as 7 years old and are participating in short races of 1.2 or 5 miles. Adult runners can choose between the 13-mile half marathon or the 26-mile full marathon.
Father Paul Rutten, a priest who has run races in the past, told Castle that he was “thinking and praying” about running the marathon, but made his final decision to run when he heard Bishop Paprocki was participating.
“I prayed about it and decided that I would run the half marathon in October,” Father Rutten wrote in an e-mail to Castle. “It is my mother’s birthday and I thought what better way to honor the life she gave me than by promoting the dignity of every person’s life. While the bishop is running the marathon I know I am not up to speed for that.”
Castle, who will be running with his wife, two daughters, his mother and his three brothers, said the Runners creed is “We run for awareness, that the eyes of all people may be transformed and see every human life as a reflection of your glory, Lord.”
Watch future issues of Catholic Times for more information on how to donate to Bishop Paprocki’s run for life or go to www.run.lifegroup413.org for more information on the LIFE Runners.