Running the race for our future priests!

It was all about fun, fitness, and fellowship as a group of Holy Spirit Seminarians, priests and parishioners got #Active4Vocations in the City2Surf 2023.

On Sunday​ 13​ August, 23 Holy Spirit Seminarians, priests and parishioners from the Diocese of Parramatta banded together and entered the City2Surf, with the aim of raising awareness of Catholic vocations and funds to support our Holy Spirit Seminarians’ education and spiritual formation.

City2Surf is Australia’s largest fun run with over 80,000 participants walking, jogging, or running the 14km between Hyde Park and Bondi Beach this year.

It was an early start to the day for our Holy Spirit Seminarians. The team was led by Fr Paul Marshall, Rector and Mark Buhagiar, Head of Clergy Health and Wellbeing. They received two blessings – one from Bishop Vincent Long at the Seminary and one by Fr Paul at the starting line.  The prayers were very much appreciated, given seminarians Macky Amores and Menard Gaspi, had only touched down in Sydney from World Youth Day, the day before and were entering ‘on a wing and a prayer.’

Bishop Vincent Long blessing the #Active4Vocations team at the Holy Spirit Seminary.

Fr Paul Marshall, a first-time City2Surf participant said, “I’m here because I’m a great believer in promoting vocations to the priesthood. I’ve been a priest for 35 years and it makes a lot of sense to be here, to promote what we’re doing because I believe in society there’s a real thirst for the sacred and the search for meaning.”

 On the steps of St Mary’s Cathedral, Fr Paul Marshall, prayed for the Holy Spirit to be with all our team members, and for God to keep them safe in His care as they embarked on their brave journey, pounding the pavements of Sydney, all the way to Bondi Beach, getting #Active4Vocations.

Just before the start of the race, we asked Vanessa Garcia, and her husband Eduardo, how they were feeling. Vanessa said, “We’re ready to get #Active4Vocations! We’re very excited to be here supporting our Holy Spirit Seminarians and raising awareness for Catholic vocations”.

Joining Vanessa and Eduardo at the starting line were representatives from the parishes of Sacred Heart Luddenham-Warragamba; Our Lady Queen of Peace Greystanes; Mary, Queen of the Family Blacktown; St Bernadette’s Castle Hill; and St Patrick’s Cathedral Parramatta.

With 14kms to brave, the “fun run” did come with its challenges.

“I’ve been training, leading up to the City2Surf but somehow, I cramped up at the 8km mark and just had to push through the pain to the end,” shared Menard Gaspi.

His seminarian brother, Jason Irawan, used the opportunity to pray the Rosary during his run, and pray for his special intentions, and for those who asked him for prayers.

It was a joyous reunion at the finish line as the team completed the incredible feat.

One participant from Sacred Heart Parish Luddenham-Warragamba enjoyed the experience saying, “There were so many different people along the way . . . it was fun to see the people in costumes running, and the different groups racing for so many charities! I would do it again, definitely!”

Congratulations to all our #Active4Vocations team members for completing the iconic City2Surf 2023, and for raising much-needed funds towards vocations to the priesthood.

A special cheer goes to Daisy Altura from Our Lady Queen of Peace Greystanes, our highest fundraiser, seminarian Jason Irawan, our second highest fundraiser, and Ai Ling Lim, our third highest fundraiser, and back for her second #Active4Vocations City2Surf entry. Well done to everyone on our team for raising over $8,000 to support our Holy Spirit Seminarians and their dreams to become priests. And a very big thank you to all those kind people who got behind our #Active4Vocations team and donated.

If you haven’t had a chance, it’s not too late to show your support and spur our seminarians on in their studies with a donation. Your generosity will go the distance in supporting their education and spiritual growth.

In our #Active4Vocations team’s race to the finish line, Mark Buhagiar placed first, Jason Irawan second, and Menard Gaspi third.

With gratitude, Menard encourages all of us to continue supporting vocations:

“Please keep us in your prayers moving forward. Please pray for priests and seminarians and for more vocations to married life, the priesthood and single blessedness. Thank you!”

Answering God’s call to a life of service as a priest requires an incredible leap of faith.

We are most grateful to all members of our #Active4Vocations team for taking their own leap of faith to raise awareness for Catholic vocations and our Holy Spirit Seminarians’ education and formation.

If you’re up for fun, fitness, and fellowship, please consider getting #Active4Vocations in next year’s City2Surf.  We’d love to see you at the starting line!

To view all the fun, fellowship and City2Surf action, check out the photo album on Flickr

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