21 Nov Pensacola Marathon Retreat recap – wow!
Over 100 LIFE Runners teammates from across America, Canada, and Fiji gathered in Pensacola to be Pro-Life drops in the culture ocean. Our bold blue “REMEMBER The Unborn – Jer 1:5” jerseys caused ripples of life-saving impact for many generations. We were the largest team gathered for the Pensacola Half/Full Marathon and 5K races, forming a long bold blue line from start to finish, All In Christ for Pro-Life! Photo Album.
These annual race weekend retreats strengthen our faith and resolve to live out our team’s mission: “Run/walk as a prayer until we cross the finish line that ends abortion.” On Saturday morning we visited the Island Cross which commemorates the first Mass in Pensacola in 1559. Our hearts were prepared for the day ahead, visiting the Alpha pregnancy help center and praying at the abortion facility. These prayerful times are the most important to face the reality of the battlefield that is abortion. Coming together with teammates is like a giant family reunion, as we are all so tightly united by our mission.
The Alpha Center left a lasting impression. The moment you enter the property you feel the very presence of the Holy Spirit, there was PEACE. We prayed the LIFE Runners Creed. This beautiful center was clearly a sanctuary of hope and love for women facing unplanned pregnancy. They continue their relationship with women after pregnancy and offer counseling for those who chose abortion. They truly are the Body of Christ reaching out into the community, putting faith into action. It was hard to leave this place of peace and love knowing our next stop would be a place where innocent lives are ended.
In contrast, the abortion facility was hidden behind other businesses with no visible sign that it was an abortion facility. It was different from the abortion facility we visited before Philadelphia Marathon (recap) last year. In Philadelphia the facility was out in the open, arrogantly declaring their intentions in the large city culture that has normalized the evil of abortion. In Pensacola you could see that faith and family still held the high ground over abortion. 50 teammates prayed in front of the abortion facility, and we poured our hearts out to God concerning this place. Fr. Adam generously offered the Sacrament of Reconciliation across the street while many prayed the rosary for an end to abortion (Fr. Adam’s homily – “running is hard”). Pat Castle led a powerful prayer asking God to help us close the abortion facility, all for His glory. You could literally feel the darkness flee as we lifted our prayers, confessions, and petitions.
After praying at the abortion facility, at the foot of the cross, we united to celebrate Mass in thanksgiving for Life. This time of reflection and worship is perfectly placed between these spiritually charged events. After Mass, the Knights of Columbus served a wonderful pre-race banquet for us. Founder and coach Pat Castle gave us a great life-saving vision for the year ahead and got the team motivated to step onto the race course as Pro-Life missionaries. Our team has grown in new outstanding ways over the last year, with a marked increase in school chapters and new mission outreach to third world countries (1 Cor 3:6). We leave a life affirming mark wherever we go.
This race carried a different feel than previous years where the races were held in large cities where darkness has no need to hide. The Pensacola Marathon kicked off with the National Anthem followed by an opening prayer. It was exciting to be in a place where faith and liberty were being openly celebrated. Their race theme was “Be Moved.” LIFE Runner Bishop Bill Wick gave us a pre-race blessing, for us to be moved by the Holy Spirit. We prayed for everyone to be moved to REMEMBER The Unborn, the least of these, for Christ. People were obviously moved by our presence based on comments. LIFE Runners were announced at the finish line as part of the “REMEMBER The Unborn” team. We impacted hearts and minds for saving lives. The race was a time to encourage strangers, to empower teammates, and to shine the light of Christ for all to see. God had a plan for us in Pensacola. The seeds planted there are already beginning to bear fruit (1 Cor 3:6). Many thanks for LIFE Runners board member TD Dorrell and for Pensacola LIFE Runners Chapter leader Debbie Ridder who coordinated our awesome national race weekend, high fives! Jn 2:5
These race retreat weekends build friendships and give us great insight into the things to come. If you aren’t able to run or walk the race events, join the race weekend as a cheering teammate along the course which has a great impact on the runners, walkers, and bystanders Registration is already open for the 2018 Long Beach Half/Full Marathon and 5K races (Oct 6-7), and we hope that even more LIFE Runners will make the race retreat weekend.
Registration is now open for the 2018 A-Cross America Relay for Pro-Life. When you register, you can order the bright yellow 2018 Relay shirt proclaiming that we are “All In Christ!” This shirt is a great Christ-mas gift to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to help His children have a birth-day (22% of children are aborted). See all the life-saving “REMEMBER The Unborn – Jer 1:5” gear in the LIFE Runners store.