On a cold Friday morning in February, Teresa McCarthy of Holy Family in St. Louis Park faced a dilemma.
After attending Mass at the parish, someone asked her to join a group of women for coffee.
“I gave up coffee on Fridays,” she said. “The archbishop asked us to give up something for [the prayer intention of] religious liberty.”
“It was a really nice day out, so I went anyway,” she said.
The result of that gathering is McCarthy will be running her first marathon, the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Oct. 7. And, she and the others joining her will be doing it for another prayer intention — the proposed marriage amendment that will be on the ballot Nov. 6.
“This is really the biggest issue of our time,” said McCarthy, 49 and a mother of five.
She had no trouble convincing one of the other moms how important the issue is. Ann Larkin, 39, a mother of four who is also a Holy Family parishioner, dove in with both feet as soon as McCarthy proposed running it for that intention.
Finding a reason
At the Friday morning coffee event, Larkin had approached McCarthy and asked if she was going to run the marathon. McCarthy, an avid runner, had been thinking about it, but just that morning decided not to do it. She didn’t feel she had a good enough reason.
Larkin, who also enjoys running, felt the same way, then asked McCarthy if there was an intention worthy of the miles and miles of training necessary to prepare for the 26.2-mile course.
“I said, ‘I don’t know, I’ll have to pray about it,’” McCarthy said. “Then, about two minutes later, it just struck me. I said, ‘We’re going to do it for the marriage amendment.’ And so, that was it.”
Fueled by their resolve, they told Larkin’s friends, Annamarie and Jason Adkins. Adkins is the executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference and has been a public spokesman for the church on the issue.
The two women particularly wanted to pray for the Adkins family and other traditional marriage supporters in the face of strong opposition, which sometimes involves vandalism on “Vote yes” signs and the houses where they are placed.
“One of the runners [in the group] had her house egged and her sign destroyed,” McCarthy said. “There were three ‘Vote yes’ signs on her block and a bunch of ‘Vote nos.’ All three of those houses [with ‘Vote yes’ signs] were egged and their signs destroyed, and all the ‘Vote nos’ were left intact.”
To make sure their message gets delivered on race day, the two women have made blue T-shirts with pro-marriage messages on the front and back. The back side has a Minnesota for Marriage logo, and the front has a prayer for marriage that reads: “Grant us the courage to defend God’s plan for marriage — the union of one man and one woman.”
They have made 20 of the shirts and passed them out to other runners. Plus, they have handed them out to seminarians and priests at the St. Paul Seminary. They even sent one to Archbishop John Nienstedt.
“I don’t know if he’s a runner, but it would be fun to see him do it,” McCarthy said.
For all of the runners, getting ready has been both a spiritual and physical battle. Larkin dropped out because of a foot problem, but will come to cheer the rest. McCarthy, too, battled some pain, but it got better and she will be at the starting line.
“St. Michael’s running with me,”she said. “When I run, I pray the rosary.
“[Oct. 7] is the feast of Our Lady of Victory. That was key for Ann and I, that the feast was on that day.”