Runners in All Saints race approach finish line at St. Peter's Square at Vatican

By Stacy Dibbern
Annual Catholic Appeal Manager

Last summer, my husband and I decided to make some healthier life choices. We start eating better, we joined a local gym, and on nice weekends, we go to our favorite place for a hike: Peaked Mountain. Over the months, these changes have had an impact: we’ve lost weight, we’re fitter, and I can get up Peaked a lot quicker than I could just a few months ago. Recently, I decided to push myself even further by adding running to my workout routine. While this has been difficult to do between the demands of a family, running the Annual Catholic Appeal, and taxiing a high-schooler around during sports season, I felt like I needed to freshen things up.

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I knew I needed some type of guidebook or roadmap, so I purchased the popular running app that would get me from the couch to running 3.2 miles, or 5 kilometers. After several weeks of this, a friend who is new to running herself mentioned a 5k race in July that she had registered for, and would I like to register and run this with her? Well, the husband and I are now registered, so I have an official goal to work towards! Having a goal keeps me focused on the long-term. Envisioning the race day, knowing that these weeks of preparation, these nights when I don’t really feel like running but I should, will make me strong and allow me to finish all 3.2 miles on that day in mid-July.

Pope Francis prays at Western Wall in Jerusalem

Recently, Pope Francis spoke about the gift of fortitude. The Holy Spirit helps us “feel the closeness of the Lord, sustains us and fortifies in the fatigues and trials of life, so that we won’t be led into the temptation of discouragement.” Fortitude gives us “the strength to do God’s will in spite of our own natural weakness and limitations” and with the gift of fortitude, “the Holy Spirit helps us to overcome weakness, so that we are able to respond to the love of the Lord.” God has given us the guidebook, the app, and the coach that we need to stick with the program, even when we’d rather quit. God wants us to get up off the couch and put in some “miles” in the three areas of spiritual development that we discussed last week: prayer, celebration, and imitation. These are the goals that matter.

We have other important goals that we’re trying to reach here in the Diocese: $3 million and 10,000 volunteer hours. So far, we have raised $2,437,186, and 100 volunteers have donated 2,500 hours of their time. If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities, we’re having a Volunteer Fair at the Bishop Marshall Center at St. Michael’s Cathedral on June 11th from 5-7 p.m. We will have on hand representatives from several of our Annual Catholic Appeal supported agencies with information about their programs as well as opportunities for folks to find out how and where they can volunteer. Light refreshments will be served. If you’re interested in learning more about this event, please email me at s.dibbern@diospringfield.org or call me at (413) 452.0670.

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