Many people who feel called to a religious vocation face the task of eliminating financial debts, whether accumulated from education loans or other sources, so that they can be free of debt when entering into religious life. One young Chicagoan has found a creative way to address that challenge.
On Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009, Alicia Torres will run the Chicago Half Marathon as part of "The Nun Run,," an idea, complete with its own website, TheNunRun.com, that she created to attract sponsors to help her eliminate her student debt. Torres hopes to become part of The Mission of Our Lady of the Angels, a Franciscan community that is forming at the former Our Lady of the Angels parish on Chicago's west side.
On TheNunRun website, Torres says, "This September 13, myself and a group of generous friends will run the Chicago Half Marathon-13.1 miles along the beautiful lakefront-with the goal of raising funds to help me remit my educational debt so I may enter Religious Life Training is in full swing, and every day I try more and more to surrender to God's mercy and grace."
Torres works for the Archdiocese of Chicago's Respect Life Office. A 2007 graduate of Loyola University Chicago, she was first attracted to Religious Life while a university student. "Men and women in my generation are looking for meaning. We desire to make a difference in the world. Religious life really is a supernatural way of living, serving our neighbor in need while acknowledging God is the center of life," Torres told HeadlineBistro.com in an interview.
"Today many men and women want to serve in this way but are hindered by their educational debt. Ironically, the cost of education that should prepare us to serve others actually hinders our ability to freely live a life of prayer and service," said Torres.
Torres is being assisted in her efforts to retire her debt by the Laboure Society, a non-profit organization that helps men and women who desire to enter religious life eliminate their debt. The Society receives donations on behalf of individuals, so that donors may receive a tax-deduction for their gift. All gifts made to The Nun Run will be channeled through the Laboure Society and are fully tax-deductible. The Laboure Society makes payments to the lenders on behalf of the men and women.
"In our world today we function so often as individuals. Really, we can't be successful without the support of others. Every person who helps me as I work toward eliminating my debt is not just assisting me in a financial need. They are enabling me to live a life of love and service. In this way, they are part of the mission of love and service I will live as a vowed religious in the Catholic Church," Torres said.