Marathon Mass

| October 9, 2019 | 0 Comments

John Evans prays during 6 a.m. Mass Oct. 6 at St. Olaf in downtown Minneapolis. After Mass, he went to the starting line of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon a few blocks away. The Mass celebrant was Father Joseph Taphorn, rector of The St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, who also ran in the marathon. DAVE HRBACEK | THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT

John Evans jumped off the light rail in downtown Minneapolis and walked into St. Olaf Church at 6 a.m. Oct. 6.

He wanted to fulfill his Catholic obligation of Sunday Mass shortly before fulfilling another — running his eighth Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

“What a beautiful way to start the day,” said Evans, 52, a member of St. Lawrence Catholic Church and Newman Center in Minneapolis.

“You spend all summer working on this thing (training for the marathon); you put all this time and effort in. What better thing to do than to thank God before it and have Mass? It just seemed to make sense,” he said.

Evans started in July thinking about having a special morning Mass on marathon day. He wrote a letter to Archbishop Bernard Hebda asking about that possibility. The letter was forwarded to Father Tom Margevicius, director of the archdiocesan Office of Worship, who learned that St. Olaf, located just a few blocks from the marathon starting line, has a Sunday 6 a.m. Mass.

Things fell into place in early August when Father Joseph Taphorn, rector of The St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, joined the Twin Cities Running Club and there met Evans, who has been a member for several years. The two runners discussed the idea of a marathon Mass, Father Taphorn agreed to be the celebrant, and Father Margevicius got permission from Father Kevin Kenney, the pastor.

“I think it’s a great option,” said Father Taphorn, 48, who celebrated the Mass with his running shoes on and who has run two other marathons. “Marathon day is an exciting day. The adrenaline’s going. It should be about getting out there and having fun, completing a challenge and just being with other people.”

Four seminarians and a priest joined Father Taphorn for the Mass and marathon — Nick Smith and Nick Vance from The St. Paul Seminary, Zach Hastings and Michael Maloney from St. John Vianney College Seminary, and Father Peter Hughes, pastor of St. Boniface in St. Bonifacius and St. Mary of Czestochowa in Delano.

From left, Father Peter Hughes, Father Joseph Taphorn and seminarian Nick Vance gather near the starting line to prepare for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. Vance and Father Taphorn wore T-shirts bearing a pro-life message. DAVE HRBACEK | THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT

All six were doing their first Twin Cities Marathon, and all six finished the race. Father Taphorn barely missed his goal of finishing in less than four hours, with a time of 4 hours, 5 minutes, 25 seconds. The fastest in the group was Maloney, a senior at St. John Vianney, at 3:07:15. Evans, who has completed about 30 marathons, finished in 4:26:56.

“It was great,” Father Taphorn said. “It was a beautiful day and a fun race. Weather cooperated. My own time was a little slower than I wanted, but it was alright.”

A boost came at around Mile 20, when the men saw a group of seminarians at the corner of Cretin and Summit near the seminary in St. Paul cheering as they ran by. “That was a great encouragement,” Father Taphorn said. “You turn on Summit and that’s the worst five miles, and so it was fun and encouraging to see a big group of seminarians there cheering us on.”

The two seminarians from St. Paul Seminary joked about taking the roles of rector and vice rector for a day as a reward for beating Father Taphorn.

“I said, ‘We’ll have to work on the transition teams,’” Father Taphorn joked. “All in good fun. I’m not too worried.”

Though the turnout was small for the marathon Mass this year — only about two dozen people overall, and just a handful of runners — Evans is hoping for future growth. He contacted race officials this year, and they said they are open to publicizing a marathon Mass next year.

“I should have gotten on this six, eight months ago,” Evans said. “We started it very late in the game. You start planning marathons almost a year before the marathon, in terms of the literature and the publicity and everything else. So, we’ll be much more ready to roll, I think, for next year.”

Will Father Taphorn be back to celebrate another Mass in his running shoes?

“It’s probably a little early to think about next year,” he said. “But, I’m open to it, and I guess we’ll see if there’s interest. … To start off (marathon day) in prayer and common faith is a great gift.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Featured, Local News