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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Woman Runs Marathon to Become a Nun...

Running for Greater Glory...
Talk about running for a crown that will last forever, as St. Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians; a 26-year-old California woman is running a full marathon to help raise money to pay off her student loans, so that she can join a monastery and become a cloistered nun.

An article in the Catholic New Agency states that Jenn Garza is committed to putting her body throught the grinding test for the sake of her spirit and those of all the people that support her in the run: 
... with a background in fitness and experience as a personal trainer in New York City – Garza said she realized through “a lot of prayer and discernment” that the best way to pay off her debt would be to ask supporters to sponsor her as she runs the southern California O.C. Marathon in May.

Dubbing it the “Litany Run,” Garza will commit to pray for each one of her supporters during the grueling 26.2 mile race by listening to a voice recording of all the prayer intentions.

Whether supporters can sponsor her financially or spiritually, Garza wants people to send her their prayer requests so she can sacrifice her race for them as to better prepare for life in the monastery.
In her web site Litany Run, Garza writes that she spent five years living and studying in New York City and London, but after attending World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain in 2011, where over a million young Catholics from around the world endured stormy weather to join Pope Benedict XVI in an open air mass at the Cuatro Vientos Aerodrome, she felt a calling by God to enter religious life.

... my group got there late and was not allowed into the vigil site, due to there not being enough space to fit all of the pilgrims. Instead we took refuge from that evening's hurricane under some trees just outside the aerodrome - along with 35 Sisters of Life, two Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and one seriously holy priest from my then home Archdiocese of New York.

There, in the middle of a storm, our disappointment in not being inside the vigil site with our fellow pilgrims faded away as we danced, praised and worshiped the Lord, sang Evening Prayer, and were blessed to have enough food for over 50 people with plenty to spare for other pilgrims who were also stuck outside.  It was that evening that my eyes were truly opened to both the humanity and holiness of consecrated people, as I witnessed the utterly joyful lives of these sisters, friars and priests. For the first time, I understood that these were real people - humans who loved, laughed, hurt, cried, joked, danced and experienced life just like the rest of us. Except they did it all in pursuit of perfect charity and with a view toward unity with the Creator of the universe... I truly saw and appreciated the contagious fire that was burning in their hearts - to do the will of God and to spread the Gospel with their whole lives - and I desired it greatly. It was that evening that my heart was opened to the possibility of religious life for the first time, as I heard the Lord call to me through the wind, rain, and beautiful sounds of a holy guitar, "Follow me!"
Garza goes on to say that she felt God was proposing to her that night, and, like the Blessed Virgin Mary when approached by the angel, she said, "Yes."

She began to discern her vocation, left New York and went back home to Fresno, California, where her family lives.  After several months of prayer and contemplation, she decided to turn her life over to God and found a community of cloistered nuns that accepted her, starting next August. 

She will close the doors on all the attachments of this world and dedicate her life to growing closer to God, through prayer and service to her community.

But, first, she has to pay off the $53k in student loans she accrued and, realizing that working two jobs wasn't going to cut it fast enough, she decided to raise the funds by running the marathon and getting sponsors.

As St. Paul writes, she is putting her body through strict training, so as to win the  prize...

For more information on Garza and how you can help, go to Litany Run,

[pic credit: Catholic News Agency/ Jennifer Garza]

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