Alongside fun and fitness, a special group from the Diocese of Parramatta is set to bring faith to the annual Sydney City2Surf fun run.
On Saturday 14 August, a group of our Holy Spirit seminarians, deacons, priests and community members will be participating in the Parramatta Catholic Foundation’s “#Active4Vocations” team. With the aim of raising awareness of Catholic vocations, the participants will run, jog, stroll and walk the iconic 14 kilometre journey from the Sydney CBD to Bondi Beach.
They are also hoping more parishioners will join them – either by signing up to the team, sponsoring them, or cheering them on through prayers of support.
The inspiration to sign up for the City2Surf came from a similar initiative in the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington in the United States and the engagement of the seminarians in Catholic Youth Parramatta’s Good Friday Night Walk and LIFTED Sports Days.
“I thought it would be great to do something which involved both a public prompt for young people to consider what God is calling them to be with an activity that promoted a healthy and active lifestyle – health of mind, body and soul,” Mark Buhagiar, Head of Clergy Health and Wellbeing in the Diocese of Parramatta, explained.
“Our health is a gift from God that is not to be taken for granted or neglected.
“Eating well, being physically active and getting the right amount of sleep are critical elements which enable our clergy and seminarians to carry out the demands of their ministry in an optimal manner.”
The Diocesan Director of Vocations: Priesthood, Fr Christopher del Rosario from St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish, Parramatta, explained that despite being physically active and a regular basketball player, it will be his first time participating in an event like this.
“We are called to live out our faith in all aspects of life,” he explained. “For me, fitness is a big part of my life, and so, incorporating my faith into this aspect, is part and parcel of living out my vocation.
“Being physically and mentally healthy is important as it allows me to carry out my priestly duties. Without it, I know I’d be limited in my capacity to be present to the other.
“My relationship with God really ties it all in.”
Fr Chris mentioned that by participating in the City2Surf, he hopes that it shows others that priests or seminarians are normal guys who have decided to respond to a particular vocation. He hopes it will open conversations about the priesthood, particularly among those who may not have considered it as a vocation.
“I think most people in our Church see priests as the ‘mysterious man’ behind the altar without any interests other than the faith.
“I hope this [City2Surf] will change that, and that other young men, each with their own interests, may hear God’s call to be a fisher of men.”
Participating in the City2Surf shows that it is worth getting out of your comfort zone for what you believe in, Mark said.
“Sport and fitness are a great way to use our God-given talents to form strong bonds with others, and to overcome tendencies of self-centredness.”
As well as raising awareness, Parramatta Catholic Foundation and the #Active4Vocations participants are aiming to raise $15,000 to support the seminarians currently at Holy Spirit Seminary, Harris Park, on their journey to becoming priests.
Parishioners, clergy, families and friends from across the Diocese are also invited to join the #Active4Vocations team – no matter what their level of fitness is.
“Knowing that I will have the support of the Diocese’s faith community whilst completing the City2Surf, I think adds an extra dimension to the event in that I am not doing this simply for myself, but to promote vocations in the Diocese of Parramatta,” Fr Chris said.
Mark added, “we do really appreciate your kindness in supporting this initiative, and our future priests, by your donation.
“Please also pray for the young people in our Diocese to listen for God’s call to them.”
Your involvement in Parramatta Catholic Foundation’s #Active4Vocations campaign will raise awareness and funds for vocations in the Diocese of Parramatta, and will directly support the 14 Holy Spirit seminarians dedicating their lives to becoming priests for God’s people.
All funds raised will provide for the formation and education of our future priests.
To register to participate in the City2Surf, or to spur on our seminarians with a donation, please visit tinyurl.com/Active4Vocations