Running for their smiles

Sr Theo catechesis with primary children karasabai
Sr Theo catechesis with primary children karasabai

This Sunday Sr Theo CJ will run the London Marathon for Jesuit Missions. Her biggest fear? The possibility of being press-ganged into running in a womble costume! But no worries, two members of the JM team are ready for the womble challenge – watch out!

For the preparation, she has had the invaluable support of her younger sister Felicity. “It’s been so great to have her companionship and enthusiasm throughout training, Sr Theo comments. Regarding the training itself, due to her natural runner-spirit, it wasn’t too bad, “except on cold, wet mornings, when I wished I was back in the tropics!”

In 2017, Sr Theo spent seven months in Guyana as a novice. From January to May, she was on a ‘mission placement’ (as called in Ignatian-speak) with the Ursuline sisters in Karasabai, north Rupununi, sharing their mission with the Amerindian villages of that area.

Six days after her vows in September, Sr Theo was back on the plane heading to south Rupununi, to help with some research for a bilingual education programme for Wapichan-speaking children. “It was a great opportunity to do some fascinating work with some wonderful people” she says.

Having been part of the Congregation of Jesus for three years now, Sr Theo calls herself a ‘sort of a theologian’: she writes on peace and Catholic social teaching, interspersed with research and teaching activities, and, of course, running.

“I’ve seen how nursery children light up when they’re looking at new, Wapichan-language storybooks, printed with funds from Jesuit Missions. Those children deserve every mile, and every penny” she says, speaking about her inspiration for participating in the London Marathon.

She is a first-hand witness of the difference Jesuit Missions makes, especially in Guyana. “The work there depends on the Jesuits’ tireless efforts to serve people in some incredibly remote places, but it also depends on the generosity of people who give to Jesuit Missions so we can repair vehicles, buy supplies and do a hundred and one other things.”

Amidst the many challenges - like having to do bullet-dodging moves from The Matrix every morning in the shower to avoid small pink frogs sticking to her -, Sr Theo fondly remembers the generous, amazingly skilled and faithful people of Guyana. “Amerindian people are fantastic storytellers, she recalls, and I’ve heard some that have had me crying with laughter!”

 

Please consider sponsoring Sr Theo CJ.

Money raised by this year’s Jesuit Missions marathon runners will support a women’s empowerment project in India and education programme with South Sudanese refugees in Uganda.