Seminarian Runs Marathon with a Mission
Diocesan seminarian runs Chicago Marathon to support the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels
By Megan Peterson, Features/Multimedia Editor
October 13, 2022
DIOCESE—When diocesan seminarian Bailey Peterson was a freshman at St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., the spiritual formation staff challenged him to begin a daily exercise routine to develop discipline. 
“Stuff like that just gets me fired up,” Peterson says. After choosing running, he passed milestone after milestone up to passing the 26-mile marker in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Oct. 9, five years later. 
Peterson had played soccer at Boylan Central Catholic High School to stay fit. But he “didn’t want to rally up a big crew of people to play soccer” and was concerned that he would slow down experienced runners. So he ran on his own, using a half-marathon plan for structure. 
“Not that I was training for a half-marathon,” he says, “but I did some 30-minute runs and I was like, wait, I just ran a 5K on a daily run.” 
During the spring of 2020, Peterson stretched his runs to ten kilometers, then to a half-marathon. “The training plan says, ‘run an hour and 45 minutes,’ so I go and run an hour and 45 minutes,” he says. Then, he says, he realized, “Oh wait! I’ve actually run a half-marathon.” 
After that, he decided he could go for the “real deal.” 
Time to run
Peterson’s distance milestones may seem haphazard. But to him, it’s not about distance. 
“My training has always been based on time,” Peterson says. “There’s something to me that’s way more rewarding about saying … I can ‘get after it,’ max-effort, for an hour and a half. That’s a full soccer game. That’s a lot.” 
While in minor seminary, Peterson began a daily record of how much time he dedicated to study, time with family and friends, and other activities — a habit he continues today. 
His preparation focuses on the time and effort he puts in. 
“It’s all about the work,” he says. “A finished run is a good run. … It could be terrible. You could be cramping in every muscle of your body, like the worst pain of your life, but if you stick to it, finish the 
workout, yeah. It’s a good run.” 
Running the race, keeping the faith
Running contributed to Peterson’s spiritual discipline and also taught him unexpected lessons about his faith. 
“This was something I learned in the marathon last year: running taught me, like, mad amounts about real vulnerability,” he says. 
Peterson ran the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Oct. 3, 2021. He said that there he was in the worst pain of his life and didn’t have the energy to smile at those cheering. Yet they cheered him on anyway. 
“Someone sees me in my radical, total utter brokenness and suffering and they give affirmation that’s not, like, cutesy or trite or meant to make me feel better, like in a superficial way, but … something that’s actually robustly true.” 
“It’s the love of the Father,” he adds. 
But he also constantly evaluates his balance between faith and running, he says. “The immediate tendency in running … I’ve experienced is, ‘look at the things I have accomplished, with my discipline, and my perseverance,’” he says. 
This can lead him into the trap of basing his worth on how fast he runs, Peterson says. And running itself can become an idol. He took two months away from running after he realized “I need to be a little detached from it.” 
The marathon and the Mission
As Peterson looked forward to beginning major seminary at Mundelein Seminary, it was impossible to ignore the appeal of the Chicago Marathon: one of the six World Marathon Majors, only an hour away. 
The marathon also featured a role model for combining running and faith: Sister Stephanie Baliga, FSE, of the Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago.
Often called “The Running Nun,” she has run in the Chicago Marathon since 2011. She and a team raise money for the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels (OLA), her order’s outreach center which cares for those living in one of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. 
And her 2022 team was open. 
Diocesan priests, employees, and friends from parishes Peterson served at during summer pastoral assignments donated to sponsor miles of his race. 
Running for Team OLA “adds another purpose,” Peterson says. “There’s a difference between ‘I’m gonna run 26.35 miles because I’m at a point … in my fitness where I can’ and ‘I’m gonna run 26 miles because I want the poor people in Chicago to have food. I want them to know Jesus. I want them to have shelter.’” 
The big day 
The Chicago Marathon Oct. 9 began with high spirits from its over-40,000 runners and many more spectators alike. 
Sister Stephanie sped by the two-mile marker, followed soon after by members of Team OLA, most in yellow team shirts. Peterson greeted his family with a grin and ran on. 
At the 15-mile marker, the Franciscans of the Eucharist waved balloon bouquets, raised signs and cheered on their Team OLA members. 
Shaking two red cowbells alongside the Franciscans was diocesan seminarian Patrick Glanville, who is in the same year of seminary as Peterson. Glanville grew up watching his father, Deacon Shawn Glanville, run marathons, though this was the first year he was supporting fellow seminarians. 
“It’s just so cool cheering on guys, cheering on Bailey, cheering on Conrad [another Mundelein seminarian], these guys who I know … working hard spiritually, working hard physically, like, how long they’ve been training and seeing that has been really cool. … It’s awesome,” he said.
Peterson completed the Chicago Marathon with a time of 3:29:38. 
At the post-race party in Grant Park, a beaming (and salt-stained) Peterson greeted his family with hugs and shared stories from the race. All around, Team OLA members and Franciscans celebrated a successful marathon. 
“Nothing hurts anymore,” a fellow team member said to Peterson. “Yeah, nothing hurts anymore,” Peterson agreed, then paused and laughed. “Everything hurts.” 
One of the sisters mentioned that the marathon always brings her hope because it shows how people can come together to “do something good.” 
“You got 40,000 people around the world to do something on the same day,” she said, chuckling. 
After the marathon, the OLA Mission served meals for its neighborhood, its runners, and their friends and family. Peterson headed back to the mission for some well-deserved rest. 
Peterson will be running again before long, though — he plans to run a half-marathon at the Madison Marathon Nov. 13. He says, “I’ll be ready to race in five weeks, for sure.” 
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