Friends both on earth and in heaven cheer Lillie Romeiser on in her first Big Apple race
A first-time New York City Marathon participant is ready to honor the saints in a unique way—by running with them.
The Nov. 1 race coincides with the Feast of All Saints, and Lillie Romeiser, 30, asked friends to pick a favorite saint to intercede for her.
“I was looking for a way to be united with my friends and family and also obviously to worship God and make it a prayerful experience,” said Romeiser.
A number of friends and family each chose a saint, one for every mile marker of the 26.2-mile marathon. A saint was added for the last .2 mile for good measure.
The devout Catholic and third-year master of divinity student at Notre Dame said that even though she’d competed in seven marathons—including Chicago and Boston—as well as an Iron Man, the New York Marathon is special.
“I’ve never run New York City before. It’s such an iconic race. I’m really excited to experience the city and all that the race has to offer. I’m shooting for a personal best, but we’ll see what race day has in store. Either way, my goals are always just to go out and have fun, try to encourage others and make it a prayerful experience.”
Her sister, Emilie Theobald, chose St. George. She told Romeiser, “He is often depicted slaying a dragon, and as you will be slaying the New York City Marathon I think it fits.”
Brendan Ryan, 30, is a seminarian of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the religious order that runs the University of Notre Dame. He is Romeiser’s classmate from the master of divinity program where future priests and laity study alongside each other. He chose St. Peter because even though the founder of the Church stumbled, he never gave up. It is that kind of discipline that is needed to finish the race. He also marveled at how the saints come from all walks of life.
“Married couples, priests, founders, scholars and people who barely graduated from high school are on Romeiser’s list of 27 saints, yet they are all called to holiness,” said Ryan. “There is not one prescribed path to holiness.”
A number of Romeiser’s friends from her undergraduate years at Princeton will be there at the race to cheer her on. They traveled from their homes in Baltimore, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Santa Fe, as well as Princeton and New York.
Sharla Cloutier, 31, lives on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and was Romeiser’s roommate at Princeton. Last year Cloutier ran the Air Force Marathon and said, “It is around the 17th or 18th mile when many runners hit the wall. That’s why I picked St. Therese of the Little Flower for mile marker 17. She needs a saint that is a powerhouse of love.” Cloutier also said that Romeiser is a very powerful Christian witness.
“There are 50,000 or so runners, each with his or her own story, and all of them trying to accomplish the same goal, but how many will be running in such a prayerful and thoughtful way as Lillie?” asked Cloutier. “Encountering Lillie is like encountering Christ.”
At Notre Dame Romeiser volunteers at a homeless shelter and serves as assistant rector at a residency with 260 undergraduates.
Romeiser said, “I help administer the dorm and do a lot with spiritual life and things like that. Also, before Notre Dame, I worked for four years as a youth minister at my home parish of St. Mary’s in Lake Forest, Illinois.”
Her mother, Ellen Romeiser, said, “Ever since high school, Lillie’s been very active in the Church. Last year she helped with marriage counseling in a parish in South Bend. She is also very involved in Camp Hope.”
Camp Hope is a summer camp in Lake Forrest, Ill., for children, teens and young adults with developmental disabilities. Volunteers have fun giving one-on-one attention to each of the campers, like in this video.
“My cousin, Joshua, is a camper. The summer camp is an opportunity for those with mental disabilities to simply relax,” said Romeiser.
She will wear the Camp Hope jersey for the marathon, which includes the catchphrase “Run for Hope.”
Her roommate and fellow divinity student, Allyse Gruslin, 29, said, “The best part of her athleticism is that it is for the glory of God. All of the races she is a part of bring people together. Even though she is the one running the race, she wants to be thinking of other people.”
Amid all the pre-marathon excitement, Romeiser sent out one more e-mail prayer request to her friends. Instead of her name she simply wrote, “Sinner running with the saints.” She said it’s important to remember that every saint has a past and every sinner a future.
George Goss writes from New York City.
Mile by MileLillie Romeiser asked friends and family to choose a saint to intercede for her as she runs the New York City Marathon on All Saints Day. Here is the list of her patrons for the day, mile by mile: 1. St. Alphonsus of Liguori 2. St. Teresa of Avila 3. St. Hildegard Von Bingen 4. St. Gianna Molla 5. St. Damien of Molokai 6. St. Andre Bessette 7. St. Maximilian Kolbe, OFM Conv. 8. Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati 9. Bl. Alvaro del Portillo 10. St. Lawrence 11. Bl. Teresa of Calcutta 12. St. Catherine of Siena 13. St. Maria Goretti 14. Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help 15. Ven. Fulton Sheen 16. St. Thomas the Apostle 17. Saint Therese of Lisieux 18. Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin (the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux). They are newly canonized by Pope Francis and the first married couple to be canonized together. 19. St. Joseph 20. Blessed Basil Moreau, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross 21. St. Michael the Archangel 22. St. Peter 23. St. George 24. St. Raphael the Archangel 25. St. Francis of Assisi 26. St. Anne 26.2. St. Catherine of Siena