Priest completes first marathon

HANAHAN — “It was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life by far,” said Father Edward Fitzgerald.

The pastor of Divine Redeemer Church wasn’t recalling his days as a seminarian, but his time running in The Charlotte Observer Run for Peace in January.

For Father Fitzgerald, running is not a form of exercise that comes naturally, but it is one that has truly changed his life. He started after he lost more than 100 pounds after spending some time in Rome.

“I started walking, and the pounds just came off,” he said. “Then I started running, and I made running in a marathon one of my goals.”

He trained only six weeks for his run, finishing in four hours and 42 minutes — a time that he feels very proud of.

“I finished and that is what I wanted to do,” he said. “There wasn’t a time when I thought I couldn’t do it. Long distance running is all mental.”

Father Fitzgerald has used his first marathon as a fund-raiser for the church and school.

“I was running one Saturday, and when I hit mile-marker 10 it hit me that I should turn this into a fund- raiser,” he said. “I promoted it and raised about $10,000. The money will be used for education of the youth in the parish and the school.”

He said that the parishioners and students responded within a short two-week period, and this is something about which he was truly pleased.

Father Fitzgerald has also been able to use the message of running a marathon in his sermons.

“So often I tell my parishioners that the Christian walk is all about remaining slow and steady because that is what wins the race,” he said. “As long as we take it one day at a time, we will be successful.”

Father Fitzgerald has caught the running bug. The priest plans to run in his second marathon April 25 in New Jersey .