Diocesan News

Bishop, priests run for fraternity, community

LINCOLN (SNR) - Father Christopher Goodwin of Saint John Nepomucene Parish in Weston and Saint Vitus Parish in Touhy is an avid runner. He especially enjoys running in fun events like the Market to Market Relay, a 78-mile trek from Omaha to the Haymarket in Lincoln.

"For the last couple of years, I ran with the team called Chariots of Fire," Father Goodwin said. "After last year’s race, I got an inspiration to get my brother priests involved, to share the experience with them."

The Market to Market Relay is such a fun event with 21 different legs, lots of camaraderie and 500 teams, he didn’t have much trouble getting together a team of priests.

In the midst of Father Goodwin’s plans, Bishop James D. Conley arrived in Lincoln, another avid runner. Father Goodwin approached him about becoming the eighth man, and the bishop readily agreed.

"I see this really as a kind of witness on behalf of priests, that priests can participate in these fun, civic and communal events," Bishop Conley said.

He continued, "It puts us in contact with people who aren’t going to church, people from different faith traditions, fallen-away Catholics… It’s kind of what Pope Francis is saying – get out there, mix it up…"

Father Goodwin contacted the Serra Club for support and was grateful for their generosity. Kevin Clark (who led a team from his own architectural company) paid the priests’ entry fee, and Bill Stull, president of the club, secured a van for them from Sid Dillon with the help of Tim Pieper.

Stull also arranged for Scott Stewart at Nebraska Printing Center to provide placards on each side of the van reading the team’s name – Buen Camino – and "Sponsored by the Serra Club."

The name Buen Camino ("Good Journey") comes from the traditional Way of Saint James pilgrimage in Spain.

"It’s an expression everybody uses," explained Bishop Conley, who walked the "camino" last year.

Father Goodwin thought that would be the perfect name for their relay team.

"It relates to a spiritual pilgrimage," he reasoned. "It’s a long journey, you’re doing it as a team, you depend on each other for moral and physical support."

Last Saturday, Bishop Conley, Father Goodwin, and Fathers Patrick Barvick, Craig Clinch, Brian Connor, Ramon Decaen, Nicholas Kipper, and Matthew Rolling gathered for Mass at North American Martyrs Church in Lincoln at 5:45 a.m. before journeying up to Omaha, praying the Liturgy of Hours on the road.

Five of the priests ran three legs each, with a good two to three hours in between each one to rest up and replenish with food, water and sports drinks. The other three did two each.

Bishop Conley drew two longer legs, one 5.8 miles and the other 2.4, because he’s accustomed to running longer distances.

"Those other guys are sprinters," he said. "I’m the tortoise and they’re the hares."

While one teammate was running, the others piled into the van and headed for the next exchange point, taking turns navigating Nebraska back roads.

As one priest would finish a leg, handing off the electronic timing device to another priest, the other team members would cheer him on.

"There’s a lot of community and fraternity happening at the exchange points," Father Goodwin said.

When the team arrived in Lincoln, they ran the last three-tenths of a mile together, in the shape of a cross, over the pedestrian bridge in the Haymarket historic district.

"That’s fun," Father Goodwin said. "People are cheering, and they announce your team name over the loudspeaker."

Buen Camino came in at 10:07:54, well under the 11 hours Father Goodwin estimated it would take them to complete the race.

"We were happy with it," he said. "We were in 74th place out of 500 teams."

Father Goodwin said they never planned to win anything.

"My goals were to foster priestly fraternity among us, to provide a good public witness of the priesthood and the Catholic faith, and to promote priestly vocations," he said.

He remembered that when he was a child, priests who were involved in community events like the Market to Market run made a big impression on him.

"It meant being a priest was something I could do, too," he remembered.

Father Goodwin said that he and other priests on his team agreed that they are tremendously blessed by the priestly fraternity within the Diocese of Lincoln.

"I love when I get to share that with people," he said. "I want them to realize what a good brotherhood we have as Lincoln priests, and how much that does to sustain our lives."

He added, "When we undertake these kinds of activities, it forms that fraternal bond that keep us connected to each other and to the wider community."

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