A marathon for the friars!
Joseph Peck has volunteered to run a marathon this Easter for the friars’ Training Fund Appeal. Here he tells us why.
“I am going to run the Paris Marathon on April 7th to raise funds for the training of English Dominicans. I first met a member of the order when I was just nineteen years old, and embarking on my first pilgrimage with Student Cross. This man had a warm smile, a ready ear, and was eager to listen, share, teach, and learn with me as I started to ask the first serious questions of my faith, my life and who ‘I’ was. I won’t embarrass him here by naming him, but throughout my university life, I considered him to be an exceptional priest, and a great man. I sought him out in crisis, and he was always there. Now, at twenty-eight, living and working in Paris, and recently engaged, I find myself turning to him again in order to help me reflect and prepare for my upcoming marriage.
“As a twenty (and then twenty-two) -year-old, I spent a total of 11 months in Kenya, living with the Poor Clares of Myanga. I was born into a Poor Clare parish, and I found Myanga an ideal place to help in local schools, and work on building homes for the most needy – the elderly, sick, and single mothers. Here, too, I came across Dominicans from Kenya and North America. The Novice Master of the Province of St Joseph (USA), Fr Benedict, once said to me that “priests being parents certainly wasn’t in the job description”. Yet, these friars saw the cries for hope, faith and love in an area ravaged by HIV, and set up an orphanage and school. They were Good Samaritans to so many. These men took on the role of older brother, father, mother, friend to hundreds of children, working miracles daily through their resolve to carry on, and an ever-growing love for God and Man. The friars put their own lives at risk by turning their compound into a refuge for people fleeing the election violence of 2007.
“I have often heard the phrase; “Once you meet one Dominican, you have only met one Dominican”. It’s true. They are so diverse, and so, too, is their work. From teaching at Oxford University, to trying to the heal wounds of prisoners, to running an orphanage in a hilltop village outside Kisumu, Kenya. There is no way to label all these men with the same description. And yet they are all alike. The English Province worked for many years in S. Africa; it has its mission in the Caribbean. Moreover, the friars all have that openness to truth, both learning and teaching it. They share that surrender to the Gospel and Christ. Both in word and deed.
“The friars’ appeal fills me with hope for the Church. Often, I hear appeals for retired priests, and for sick priests, and the elderly. This is the first time I can recall hearing an appeal for the next generation of young men looking to offer themselves to Christ in such a special way. These young men currently in formation, and those following, will be the next generation who can give what I received from others. They will be the friends, the teachers, the priests, the listeners and the preachers. And for that I ask for your support.”