Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Jesuit marathon runner beats the odds.

This past weekend I had a visit from my Mom and Dad as well as my Aunt Frances and Uncle Stanely. As they did on their last visit to Ciszek, I think my parents got a positive impression of this part of the Bronx, and my aunt and uncle seemed to like it as well. On Saturday we went to The Cloisters, which was another big hit. It's always good to see one's customary surroundings through the eyes of others, and these family visits tend to give me a greater appreciation of my neighborhood than I may manifest on a day-to-day basis. Beyond that, it's always great to see my family, and I deeply appreciated the visit.

On another note, I received a message today from a Jesuit friend in the Wisconsin Province about an inspiring article that the Minneapolis Star-Tribune just ran on Father Philip Shano, a Jesuit of the English Canada Province who serves as master of novices at the tri-province Jesuit novitiate in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 2004, Father Shano underwent surgery to remove a non-cancerous tumor from his brain. Side effects of the surgery left Shano partially deaf and forced him to relearn how to walk and to talk. Overcoming his own frustration and his doctor's skepticism, Shano also managed to return to an avocation he loved: running. Here is some of what the Star-Tribune has to say about this remarkable Jesuit:
There was one time -- only one -- when Philip Shano let the frustration come through. Shano, a Jesuit priest, was still in Toronto, recovering from surgery that had taken much of his mobility and his hearing. He was outside one day, moving slowly down a path with his walker when it happened.

"I pushed the walker away and yelled, 'Why me, God, why me?'" Shano said. "The walker fell and I fell. I eventually got up after some trying. What I thoroughly realized at that point is that God only allows things to happen if he wants to use it. It was a sense of 'My life is not over, but it's changed.'"

And so on Sunday, Shano, 51, once told by his surgeon he would never run again, will run in his second consecutive Twin Cities Marathon.

. . .

"In retrospect, [the doctor] knew I'm stubborn," said Shano, who had been a recreational runner before the surgery. "He knew I would turn around and go out and try my best to start running. So I eventually stopped using the walker and started running on my own. the I used a treadmill. Then I started moving better and eventually..."

He was transferred to St. Paul in 2005. The Novitiate is right on the marathon course and that fall he and a novice were watching the race when the young man suggested Shano try it the following year.

"For a second it was, 'Well, look at me,'" Shano said.

Then he took a second look. Already the surgery and his recovery had given Shano another view of his own faith and his personal priorities. During his recovery he had been inspired by Lance Armstrong's story of recovery from cancer. Why couldn't Shano be an inspiration as well?

"As one friend had told me, my life had been changed, not ruined," Shano said. "I took that to heart. I thought, 'Well, I need to keep challenging myself,' so when that young man suggested I run the marathon, I thought, why not? . . . I can show that there is hope. As I always say, if I can do it, anybody can."
For the rest of the story, click here. I've met Philip Shano a couple of times since I entered the Society, once when I was a novice and once here at Ciszek. I've admired the determination with which he has responded to and largely overcome physical challenges, and I admire him even more now. I post the Star-Tribune article here in the hopes that readers of this blog may be as inspired by Shano's story as I have been. AMDG.


At 10/04/2007 9:05 AM, Blogger Jason said...

This summer at the Denver Jesuit Novice Summer History Course, Fr. Shano also accompanied a group of novices to the top of one of the 14,000 foot peaks outside of Denver and presided at liturgy on the summit.

It was an incredible and inspiring moment for everyone.


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