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82-year-old priest begins final 10 half marathons


Photo Courtesy of St. Mary's University

Zoe Romanowsky - published on 10/15/21

A former refugee, Fr. Vlad has combined his love of sports and music to raise funds for a school he loves.

When Msgr. Vladimir Felzmann arrived in England as a refugee from Czechoslovakia after World War II, he found that competitive sports was the ticket to fitting in. He was able to make friends through playing sports, even before he spoke English.  

“It was sport that enabled me to get inserted into society. I realized if I could do sport then I began to belong,”


Now 82 years old, the priest who is affectionally called “Fr. Vlad” is combining his love of sport with his love of music and walking his final 10 half marathons of an epic challenge he undertook over the course of the year to raise £500,000 to replace St. Mary’s University Twickenham Chapel Organ. 

The University’s chapel is at the heart of its campus life with daily and Sunday Mass and as a venue for other Christian communities. The school’s press release reports that in recent years, the chapel has hosted religious leaders such as Pope Benedict XVI, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople of the Eastern Orthodox Church Bartholomew I of Constantinople, and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rev. Baron Rowan Williams.

The University wants to expand its chapel’s use and make it a resource for music, art, and religious education.

By theend of his challenge, Fr. Vlad will have completed 83 halfmarathons to celebrate 83years of life, and 52 laps, celebrating his 52 years as a priest. To date he has completed 1497.6km — just over the distance from London to the Vatican City. 


Fr. Vlad, who was a volunteer chaplain at the London Games in 2012, has been joined in his marathon challenge by St. Mary’s students, staff, and alumni for laps around the track. So far, he’s raised over £50,000 from a variety of supporters. (Anyone wishing to donate to his challenge can do so on his JustGiving website.)

Fr. Vlad says he is excited to begin the last part of his challenge.

“I believe in St Mary’s University, I believe in the organ’s Apollonian music opening people to the presence of God, so I committed myself to walking the talk of my faith. Now that all restrictions have been lifted and the new term has started, I am looking forward to being joined by more staff and students of St Mary’s as I complete my challenge.”

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