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Boston Man Raises Awareness of Refugees with Marathon Effort
March 10, 2009

Boston Man Raises Awareness of Refugees with Marathon Effort
John McLaughlin approaching the finish line of the Quebec Marathon in August, 2007. (Photo courtesy of John McLaughlin)

John McLaughlin, an employee of Boston College and a parishioner at St. Ignatius Church in Newton, Mass., is running in this year's Boston Marathon to help the work of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.

“Over the past few years, I’ve heard about some runners in the London Marathon who raise money for JRS. The thought occurred to me that perhaps I could help out in the same way,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

Mr. McLaughlin hopes his 26.2-mile effort can both raise awareness of the plight of refugees around the world and raise money to help the efforts of JRS/USA.

“JRS is doing the work of the Gospel in a very concrete way,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “JRS is working with people and in situations that most of us don’t think of. It is good to know that someone is accompanying these forgotten people and advocating on their behalf,” he said.

People are invited to support Mr. McLaughlin and his efforts for JRS by clicking on the “Support our Work” tab near the top of the page.

JRS/USA is one of nine regions of Jesuit Refugee Service, an international Catholic organization with a mission to accompany, serve and defend the rights of refugees and forcibly displaced people around the world.

Mr. McLaughlin, who is married and the father of three daughters, is a Boston College graduate, and currently works in the IT Dept. supporting Human Resources at the college. He said many people initially find his job uninteresting, until “they learn it is the system that generates their paychecks!"

Mr. McLaughlin was a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps for several years. He started his JVC experience at the St. Paul Mission on the Fort Belknap Reservation near Hays, Montana, doing whatever was needed, from driving the school bus to helping to maintain the school and other properties.

His next post for JVC was at the Dismas House in Nashville, Tenn. “Dismas is the name that tradition gives to the ‘good thief’ that was crucified with Jesus,” he said. “Dismas House works with people coming out of prison to help them transition to a better, more productive life. Dismas is based on the idea that people need community,” he said.

After the Dismas House, Mr. McLaughlin was on the staff of JVC South, where he helped to run the JVC in the 10 southern states that coincide with the New Orleans province of the Society of Jesus.

“JVC was a great experience for me. A lot of graces in the people I met, the places I lived in and visited, and the work we did,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

Mr. McLaughlin aims to complete his sixth marathon when he laces up for the Boston race in April.

“A number of my long runs are done on Sunday mornings when I run from home to church at St. Ignatius parish (at Boston College). I leave enough time to shower on campus and meet my family for 10:00 a.m. Mass,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

“This section also includes ‘the hills’ in Newton, including Heartbreak Hill. So when the day of the marathon comes, I know well what I’m in for. I don’t get surprised by the hills as some out-of-town folks naturally will,” he added.

“My training is often done alone, often during the quiet of a Sunday morning, and often enough along the actual route. Furthermore, because it is so quiet, and I am alone, and I never use an iPod, I am able to go inside myself and reflect on what has been happening, what I’ve been reading, how my relationships are, where I can make a better contribution,” he said.

“The support that I can help generate for JRS is small relative to the needs, but it is something. And it being something is enough,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

Visit Mr. McLaughlin's page here:

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Mr Christian Fuchs
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