Stephanie Baliga knows a thing or two about perseverance. She honed it during her days as an elite college runner, and is now using it to reach a much bigger end. Kerry Trotter talked to this extraordinary woman for today's Word on Fire blog.
The start has always been Stephanie Baliga’s favorite part of a race.
“That underlying anticipation, that build-up in the beginning, “ she said. “Everyone is quiet and focused on starting. It builds and then—bang—it’s released and all the energy goes. I love that.”
The 23-year-old Rockford, Ill.-native competed on the Division 1 level for the University of Illinois Cross Country team, and completed her second Chicago Marathon last month in a jaw-dropping three hours and 43 minutes.
But Baliga has recently surged past the starting line toward a much bigger milestone: becoming a nun. And more, joining an order just a little over a year old.
“We’re extremely new,” she said. “Pretty much as new as we can possibly be.
Baliga — or Sr. Stephanie, as she’s now known — is a novice in the Franciscans of the Eucharist rder, a small community of religious and clergy servicing a tough neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. The church at the center of the mission is Our Lady of the Angels — a building, school and community that was nearly decimated after a devastating fire killed 92 children and three sisters 53 years ago this Thursday...