Sister Mary Beth Lloyd visits parish, runs the bridge for orphans
CHARLESTON—Road races traditionally offer participants an opportunity to raise funds for countless charities in their communities. For Sister Mary Beth Lloyd, it was an opportunity to bring her charity to the race.
A member of the Religious Teachers Filippini in Morristown, N.J., Sister Mary Beth ran in the Cooper River Bridge Run on April 7. An avid runner with many races of all distances to her credit, this was her first time participating in Charleston’s signature road race.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Sister Lloyd said. “It was so well organized, and everyone was so happy and positive.”
Sister Mary Beth had come to the Lowcountry to thank the sewing group from Christ Our King-Stella Maris churches, who have made over 4,000 articles of clothing for her cause. As a bonus, she took part in the race on behalf of her charitable organization, AIDS Orphans Rising, which spreads awareness and provides for children in impoverished countries such as Ethiopia, where many of the children were orphaned because their parents died of AIDS.
All photos, Miscellany/Doug Deas: On April 6, the day before the Cooper River Bridge Run, Sister Mary Beth Lloyd checks out the race course and shows off a dress made by the Christ Our King-Stella Maris sewing group for her charity for orphans.
“(The children) have very little to eat, very little clothing or education, so we’re doing what we can to help them,” she said.
Her participation in Saturday’s race, which included more than 27,000 participants, raised nearly $20,000 for the cause.
“Usually, when a group asks me to run, they’ll put it out there on their Facebook page,” she said. This time, within a few minutes of being posted, about $5,000 in donations poured in from online.
“I think it’s probably a little more than 50-50,” Sister Mary Beth said of the donations. “A little more than half of all donations come in from online, the rest come from checks.”
A 10K road race — a little under 6.25 miles — is not Sister Mary Beth’s usual event. She’s run longer races, including distances up to 100 miles, and says her goal is not to finish first, but just to finish. Bridge run organizers allowed her to start with the elite runners.
“(The Bridge Run) was a little too fast for me,” Sister Mary Beth admitted. “I felt so privileged because they put me on the front line, so I started out running with the elite runners. I didn’t finish with the elite runners — in fact, I got run over by a lot of the elite runners.”
She finished the course in about 1 hour and 21 minutes, and said that all during the race, as in previous races, people stopped to talk to her and she took the opportunity to encourage them to donate to her cause.
“I always run with a rosary,” she said. “And (on Saturday), people ran by me and asked me to pray for them or for someone else, and I tell them that I would. And other people ran right past me and yelled out, ‘I beat you.’ No one wants to get beaten by the nun.”
By Chip Lupo / Special to The Miscellany
For more on Sister Mary Beth’s charity, see http://themiscellany.org/?s=Sister+Mary+Beth+Lloyd
Top photo: Sister Mary Beth (far left) prepares to line up with other runners before the start of the Bridge Run.
Faith and hope find a way to lift up the world’s orphans
Millions of children in the world have no parents to care for them; no grandparents, no aunts or uncles. They are orphans, left alone with only their little siblings after the adults were killed by the ravages of AIDS or war. Sometimes the head of household is only 7 or 8 years old.
Thankfully, there are groups trying to help.
Sister Mary Beth Lloyd, from the Institute of the Religious Teachers Filippini, travels the globe telling stories of destitute children and recruiting people to help provide for their education. Locally, one of her dedicated group of volunteers includes a collection of senior ladies from Christ Our King Church in Mount Pleasant. They gather at least twice a week for fellowship and outreach at the parish Beach House.
One batch of women makes rosaries and crochets hats for a variety of people all over the world, including the orphans. Another bunch sews dresses and skirts for them.
On a recent Monday, Elaine Boone, Lynda Strenck, Rosemary Giordano, Mary Graesch, Dot Comar, Dolly Thomason, Fran Franzone and Lois Cummings circled up with cups of coffee and all their supplies on tables in the community room. As they worked, there was a lot of good-natured teasing and laughter.
Boone and Strenck grew serious as they talked about the children they’re trying to help — especially the young girls. They explained that the children must receive at least an eighth-grade education, which is the minimum they need to qualify as an adult and earn a living. If they don’t, girls as young as 10 who are the head of the house will end up prostituting themselves to support their siblings.
“She’s really looking out for these little girls,” Boone said of Sister Mary Beth. “It’s very important she gets them this education so they have a future.”
To get the girls to go to school, the Filippini sisters pay them a wage, used to support their siblings. The children learn 21 skills, including agriculture, cooking, sewing, beekeeping and housekeeping.
“If you live in a hut where there’s no bathroom and you sleep on a floor, you don’t know how to clean a bathroom; you don’t know how to polish a dining room table or anything like that,” Sister Mary Beth said in an interview with New Evangelization Television. She said the housekeeping certificate is invaluable because it guarantees a job with any hotel in the girls’ country.
Recently, the sister spoke to a group of students at Bishop England High School about her mission. Mary Nemeth, the school’s director of Ministry and Missions, said the teens were riveted by the stories and anxious to help.
It is a daunting task. In the U.S. alone, there are almost 70,000 new orphans every year, Sister Mary Beth said. A great need here is a hostel-style place where runaway children escaping a bad situation can be safe at night. The needs in the mission countries are greater, but there is always faith and hope.
The ladies at Christ Our King said they feel both every time they package a dress, skirt, cap or rosary.