US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Running to the convent

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Not many people run a half marathon and fewer still these days join a religious order. Alicia Torres, 24, is doing both.

She ran the Chicago half-marathon--that's 13.1 miles--on September 13 with the goal of making a dent in her college loans. She has to be debt free before taking a vow of poverty.

Torres' determination is an inspiring story--you can read it on Catholic News Service and her blog,, but it's also a challenge for the rest of us. She graduated from a Catholic college, Loyola University Chicago, with $94,000 in debt.

Now I greatly admire Loyola and don’t blame them, entirely. Still, it's also sad that college loans make young people delay a vocation--be it to religious life or to a low paying job serving the church or the poor. I know young couples who look at the cost of educating a child through college when considering that vocation of parenthood as well. 

A check from Americorp helps for those who do a year of service (I know from personal experience), but $5,000 is nothing when you're talking about debts as high as $94,000.

See the story we wrote about this issue last year: Sticker shock. What do you think? Is there a way to fix this problem other than each student signing up for a marathon?