Nuns Stephanie Baliga and Alicia Torres are set to run Chicago Marathon to raise money to help the poor in West Humboldt Park

Two Chicago nuns are raising money to pay for renovations to their church building in Chicago's West Humboldt Park neighborhood.Sister Stephanie Baliga and Sister Alicia Torres are fundraising to pay for renovations to the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels School building, which provides weekly food pantries, as well as storage and distribution of clothing and household good for West Humboldt Park residents.

The sisters are leading a team of 85, which include several priests.

The nuns visited the ABC7 studio on Wednesday to talk about their fundraising drive.

“Jesus asked us to be able to help our neighbor and treat others the way we want to be treated,” Baliga said. “And we believe that’s what we’re doing here in West Humboldt Park, being able to bring the hope of Christ through the love of Christ to a neighborhood that’s in much despair and difficulty and incredibly difficult circumstances.”

“We’re trying to bring the presence of Jesus to this neighborhood that needs a lot of hope, and a lot of love,” Baliga said.

Now, Baliga has merged her passion for running with her love of God to serve her community.

When the fatigue inevitably kicks in, and the finish line beckons during the 26-mile run Oct. 14, she’ll draw inspiration from within.

“All of the work that we’re doing is for the greater glory of God, so when we’re running, and it starts to hurt, we’ll make that last charge to not slow down for the mission and for Jesus.”

The cosmic shift in Baliga’s life started with an identity crisis.

As a University of Illinois distance runner, she measured her self-importance on her running and academic achievements.

But when she broke her foot sophomore year, she was forced to reevaluate who she was.

“I started to contemplate my life,” she said. “Who am I? What am I doing? My main identity could not be running anymore.”

It took Baliga a few years to figure out exactly what God was asking her to do, she said. But soon after graduating college in 2010, she joined the Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago at the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels.


posted Tuesday October 8th
by Javonte Anderson