Catholics respond to Boston Marathon explosions

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Andrew Carlisi was 2,650 miles from the finish line, but that didn’t stop him from finishing the home stretch of Monday’s Boston Marathon in spirit.

Carlisi, a parishioner at Sacred Heart in Prescott, organized the simple “Run a Mile — Wearing Red, White and Blue” event April 16. The 17-year-old saw it as a way to show unity as free, fearless Americans while honoring the three victims, some 170 injured and countless people impacted by the bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon a day earlier.

“It was something I felt like I needed to do. It felt like it was a journey I needed to take,” Carlisi said, especially for those who lost limbs as a result of the attack.

Through texting and posting information online, 10 others showed up to run alongside of him or support the effort. Most of the runners were friends and siblings — including Carlisi’s 6-year-old sister.

“I was running for the American people,” Carlisi said.

It wasn’t until after the one-mile run and hour-long festivities — which included a photo for the local paper — that the teenager learned the Boston Marathon is always held on Patriots Day.

“I tried to give God a lot of the credit,” he said.

He thought about his own life journey during his trek around parts of Prescott, which ended atop a hill. Others have harder times and there are moments of running or walking along the path, he said.

Prescott runners started near the statue of the Fallen Soldier on Whiskey Row or other locations. Carlisi listed the event location online as “where you are at” to encourage widespread participation. Carlisi plans to “Run a Mile — Wearing Red, White and Blue” next year too.

He wasn’t the only Catholic who was moved to action after hearing about the explosions at the Boston Marathon. Joe Petruccio, a New York Catholic and the official artist of Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy camp, Graceland and others, was moved too. He shared his hand-drawn image of a victorious figure crossing the finish line with his Facebook friends. (see it here)

It was the latest in what Petruccio calls his “RockAngels” series. That’s how he addresses the angels who guide and protect those on earth. He said they’re a way of transferring his heart’s feelings to paper.

“When I saw the tragic scene at the finish line, it made me thinking of all of the victims hurt and dying, how within seconds had their lives changed forever,” said Petruccio, who was working in his studio when news broke. “The first thing I thought about doing was creating an angel for them.”

He used simple yet bold strokes that he hopes captures the ethereal and spiritual quality of an angel. Many were so moved by the golden wings and shiny halo, red floating hearts and adapted prayer addressed to “God, source of my strength,” that nearly everyone who clicked “like” also shared the image. It has been shared 221 times so far.

“Grant me the courage I need today to move and run so free, to be the runner you want me to be. Stay with me, Oh, God till it’s time for me to rest. Through You, I can do my best,” the prayer reads in part.

“You know how to express love and give human feelings to help those in a horrifying situation. We all cried for them and prayed,” a Facebook comment by Gaye Underwood read. “You have given them an extra hug with your art.”

Previous artwork quoted Scripture and was created for the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. and for victims of Hurricane Katrina. His first angel drawing honored Petruccio’s wife, his self-titled angel on earth.

Catholic news wires and parishes did their part to remind online readers the importance of faith at every stage in life. Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Queen Creek posted a photo of Martin Richard — the first official victim — taken at his first communion. The April 16 caption read “Please make sure that your kids know God before they leave this earth. Martin was killed in the Boston bombing. Rest in peace.”

A similar version was posted in Spanish.

The Archdiocese of Boston requested April 17 that online followers remember the students and faculty of Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy in Dorchester. Eight-year-old Richard was a student there.

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