CATHOLIC VALUES COLUMNIST
A new running club started at Franciscan University last semester brings a greater awareness of the pro-life movement, as members of the club offer up their runs for the unborn.
“We offer up our run as a prayer for the protection of the unborn, for families who are struggling, and that’s a huge part of each run, offering up our suffering,” said freshman Anne Marie DiProperzio, president of Franciscan University’s Life Runners club.
Every Tuesday afternoon, students gather at the Tomb of the Unborn Child on campus wearing their matching blue “jerseys,” ready to run or walk in support of the pro-life movement. This group is a team dedicated to advocating for the rights of the unborn through prayer and awareness.
“The whole mission of it is to increase awareness, partly by wearing the T-shirt when you run, like in groups. The back of the T-shirt says ‘Remember the Unborn,’” said DiProperzio.
The Life Runners begin by praying the Life Runners Creed. Then they start their run, praying a rosary while they go.
“Part of being a Life Runner is that we are offering up our suffering, literally for the unborn,” said DiProperzio.
The Franciscan chapter of Life Runners was started last semester by senior Ashley Steffes as her senior project for the Center for Leadership.
“I wanted to do something that either involved running, catechetics, or pro-life work,” said Steffes.
Steffes said she approached the coordinator of Student Leadership Development, Ronald McNamara, who suggested Life Runners to her, saying that a student had tried a couple years ago to start it up, but it did not last when she left.
Steffes took it on as her project, and started up the club.
“I enjoy running,” said Steffes, “but it’s so much better to run for the pro-life cause, something greater than for yourself.”
This semester, Steffes has decided to pass the baton on to DiProperzio so that the club will continue even after she graduates.
Life Runners is not unique to the Franciscan campus. It is an international organization that not only has chapters in every US state, but also has 99 chapters across 29 nations.
“It’s just cool to be a small part of this bigger thing that’s all over the world,” said Steffes.
Life Runners is based on Jeremiah 1:5, and it was founded in 2008 by Pat Castle, a Catholic, after he had a miraculous encounter with St. Padre Pio at the end of a race he was in in 2006. St. Padre Pio is therefore the organization’s patron saint.
There are over 5,000 members of this international team, who all wear the same Life Runners shirt on their runs. For Franciscan University students, the run always starts and ends at the Tomb of the Unborn Child, but the route may be on or off campus depending on the day.
The entire run is a prayer which lasts anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes. In addition to the Life Runners Creed and rosary, the team regroups at the Tomb when they finish their run and end in prayer as well.
“(Life Runners) started as a leadership project, but has become so much more,” said Steffes, “It’s such a blessing to be a part of it and to run with others on campus and throughout the world who are so passionate about life!”
The group meets every Tuesday at 5:30, and always welcomes new people to join them in their runs for life.
“I’d like to invite anyone who’s interested in running or walking to join us and be a witness to the pro-life cause,” said Steffes.
DiProperzio also encouraged students to come give Life Runners a try, even if they only come to one run.
“I was never a runner,” said DiProperzio. “Sometimes I’ll even say to myself, ‘Wow. I’m not even a runner, why am I doing this?’, and then I’ll say ‘Oh, I’m a Life Runner, that’s why.’”