Jesuit parishes prepare for London Marathon 2019
Leading lights in two of our Jesuit parishes are taking the London Marathon challenge for Jesuit Missions next month.
Kenny McKie is the Chair of the parish council at St Aloysius in Glasgow and Shirley Russo is Secretary of the parish council at St Wilfrid’s in Preston. They know each other from many Jesuit parish networks and training courses.
Shirley and Kenny are both new to running and are thinking of pacing each other on the day. “We are going to try and get together for a practice run to see if that will work,” says Shirley, who started running about year ago with a 5km park run, quickly graduated to half marathons and last weekend ran the Trimpell 20 in Lancaster. Kenny is taking it a bit more slowly. But both are proud that their efforts will support education in South Sudan.
Running the marathon to celebrate his 20th anniversary as a teacher, Kenny observes, “People in Scotland really value education and the right to an education for all, so the cause of ensuring safe education for refugees in war-torn South Sudan really resonates here. There’s a great willingness in Glasgow to be there for others. Putting faith into practice is very important for us, so I’m running as well for all those who are willing me on.”
Shirley agrees, “I think of the huge commitment of the Jesuits to serve in South Sudan and even losing their lives for the cause, so it keeps me going with the training. The Jesuits have supported me through my life so it is good to give something back.”
Kenny has spent time in London and is looking forward to reconnecting with the city by pounding the streets: “As a history teacher it is a special privilege to run through London as I know something about what those streets have seen – the blitz, the plague – so many iconic images. As quarrymen my ancestors cut the famous Creetown granite which still forms the London kerbstones along the Embankment, where I will be running. I think I will feel quite emotional – adding my ancestors to the long list of those who are with me in my efforts.”
Getting ahead with her fundraising, Shirley has had the support of the parish priest Fr Peter Randall SJ. “He’s been very generous in letting me go up to the altar and make an appeal, and parishioners have been really generous, so I am getting close to my target now.”
Shirley had a particularly innovative fundraising idea – a Zumbathon. “Zumba is a kind of aerobic exercise which I do a few times each week,” she explains. “Three instructors donated their time, and the local sports centre gave the space for free, and I raised another £100.”
However Shirley is suffering after her efforts at the Trimpell 20 last weekend, “I can’t move at the moment. I hit a wall at 17 miles and the pain after was like nothing I’ve felt before in training but I got to the end with the constant intercession of St Patrick and St Sebastian!” Shirley is most looking forward to the atmosphere on the day: “I’ve been told that the atmosphere is amazing and the crowd keeps you going. I’ll be running through an historic city as part of a historic event, so I’m really grateful for the opportunity.”