A priest who takes part in long-distance runs has beaten his previous best time while raising funds for an orphanage in Mexico suffering severe financial difficulties.
Fr Morty O’Shea took part in the Swansea Bay 10k on Sunday, September 26, finishing 466 out of 2,863 competitors. Hoping to match his previous best time for the 10k of 46 minutes 28 seconds he ended up completing the course in 45 minutes 17 seconds.
The priest ran the race to help a centre that looks after orphans and the elderly in central Mexico, which is experiencing financial problems.
Fr O’Shea said: “The money I raise will go towards the day-to-day running costs of providing for the 250 young people and 30 elderly residents.”
In 2009 the Society of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity (the religious order to which Fr O’Shea belongs) took over fiscal responsibility for the centre based in Colon, Queretaro.
The centre was founded in 1975 by Fr Anthony Norman, a priest from Colorado. SOLT stepped in after Fr Norman’s advanced years meant he could no longer continue with the work. The elderly priest now requires regular nursing care. The order desperately needs help to meet the costs of the project. It costs about £100 to feed, clothe and educate one orphan for a month. The plight of the orphans touched Fr O’Shea, who decided to enter the Swansea 10k to raise funds for them.
He was grateful for some good advice he received while taking Holy Communion to a sick parishioner while on his way to the race.
Fr O’Shea said: “Her husband, a doctor, suggested that I have a slice of toast and a cup of tea to boost my blood sugar levels. When I left he gave me a banana to have 30 minutes before the run. I think this was a considerable help.”
According to Fr O’Shea the last two kilometres were the most gruelling of the race and these seemed to go incredibly slowly. But the priest turned to prayer in this difficult stage.
He said: “I kept repeating the holy name of Jesus to keep my mind focused. It was great to cross the finish line, like one of those scenes from Chariots of Fire, even though I felt a little wrecked.”
Fr O’Shea hit the headlines in 2009 when he raised £9,000 for Aid to the Church in Need’s campaign to help those in Gaza affected by the Israeli bombardment by running the Carmarthen Mayor’s Race.
Fr O’Shea is not yet sure how much he will raise but said: “It would be great if I was to come close to the last run which brought in almost £9,000.
“Given, however, that £6,800 of this came from a single contribution, and that my efforts at fundraising have been hampered by a week’s pilgrimage and moving to a new parish next month, I would be happy if I got £2,000.”
The Swansea Bay 10k celebrated its 30th year anniversary in 2010. First place went to Keynan runner Edwin Kiporir.
For more details about the orphanage in Mexico or to sponsor Fr O’Shea, write to: Fr Morty O’Shea at Ty Mair, Kings Turning Road, Presteigne, LD8 2LD.