Nick Reinagel, coordinator of Catholic STL Running Club, meets with the Office of Young Adult Ministry and shares his insights on starting the local group.
An Interview With Nick Reinagel
In May of 2017, Nick Reinagel moved from Kansas City to St. Louis, and by August he had launched the Catholic STL Running Club. After a wildly successful few months and nearly 100 followers on Facebook, we wanted to take the opportunity to sit down with Nick and learn more about how he launched the running club.
When you moved to St. Louis, were you expecting to get involved in Catholic young adult ministry?
So the last two years I was in Kansas City for Dental School, I was a part of their young adult Catholic community. They have a great sports program, Theology on Tap, young adult Adoration and Confession times, and I really wanted to continue it and bring it into my St. Louis life. I basically did a lot of googling to figure out what was in St. Louis for young adults, and found Theology on Tap and the St. Louis young adult volleyball league and met a lot of people through there. I also was a part of the Anima Christi group at the Cathedral Basilica, Nazareth Nights, and joined the core team for Incarnate Word’s youth ministry program.
“I really think God is calling me to start up a running club”
Great! So speaking specifically about the Catholic STL Running Club, what was the genesis of the creation of the group?
So this started back in March before I even moved to St. Louis. I was involved in the running club in Kansas City through their young adult groups, and when I moved I couldn’t find anything like it online, so I thought to myself, “Well… I really think God is calling me to start up a running club.” So after being in St. Louis for a couple of months, I emailed the Office of Young Adult Ministry in the middle of July and shared that I was interested in starting up a running club and asked for advice on how to get it started. From there they helped me get the word out. About a week after first contacting the office, I was able to set up a page on the website, create a graphic, make an announcement at Theology on Tap, create the Facebook group, and then August 5th was our first run.
Yeah, it’s been really exciting to see how quickly it took off. So how are you connecting and keeping in contact with new members?
Facebook is the primary way we connect with members, but every week there is a run, I send an email reminder and create an event on Facebook. With the website I created a repeated event so I don’t have to add a new post every week. Then because it’s on the website, anyone who gets the St. Louis Young Adult newsletter is getting a reminder as well.
How do potential members get connected with you?
On our page of the St. Louis Young Adult Website there is a link that allows people to say that their interested in the group which will give me their name and email. There is also a link to our Facebook group so they can request to be added to our group which are just easy ways to get connected. Even if they just show up to running club and say that they’re interested, I will take down their contact information. So I will make sure to introduce myself to new people and then continue to keep in contact with them.
And you do have a lot of members – about 100 on Facebook! How do you think this grew so quickly?
I think it’s something different, you know, different from the traditional Bible study or prayer group. This is a casual setting, people come in their t-shirts and gym shorts, and it can bring in people that may not feel comfortable going to a Bible study just yet.
One of the things that we love about your Facebook page in particular is how active and versatile it is. You continue to post more than just your Saturday morning runs. You invite members to take part in races as a group for city-wide events as well as holy hours and other young adult events. At this point it seems it’s not just a running club anymore, it’s a community. It really sets your group apart from other running clubs. What else would you say makes this group different? What makes it a ministry?
I really wanted to make sure that this group incorporated a spirit of prayer. Before each run we take a knee, we say a Hail Mary, I ask anyone if they have any prayer intentions, so I didn’t want it to be just about the run. I wanted to develop some fellowship, to dive into people’s lives, to find out what was happening at their parishes- to even find out where they go to church. We’re trying to do God’s work, encouraging others to grow in relationship with Christ, and also trying to stay in shape.
“Don’t be afraid, take courage, and just take a leap of faith and reach out to somebody.”
What advice would you give to those who would want to start or maybe improve their current young adult groups?
I think that for people that are wanting to start a group, know that I was in the same boat this past July . Basically what I’ve been hearing a lot is “do not be afraid.” We hear that in the Bible all the time. So really, don’t be afraid, take courage, and just take a leap of faith and reach out to somebody. The Office of Young Adult Ministry is a great resource. I would also tell you that you can’t do it by yourself. You need that support system. I know for me, I had that support if I couldn’t make it every Saturday to the run. But again, you can’t do it by yourself.
Right, I mean that’s the whole message of the Christian life; we’re not made to do it alone.
Totally. Then, for someone who leads a group and wants to improve what they’re already doing: In the Running Club, we strive for really diving in deep to know the people that are coming – making sure we know their name, making sure we know something about them. A lot of people don’t know I do this, but after meeting a new member I would write their name and something that we had talked about in my phone so that I would remember them the next time I saw them, just because it’s so important for people to know that they’re wanted and know that somebody recognizes that they are there.
What is coming up for Catholic STL Running Club in 2018?
Running Club will be back in 2018, but I am hoping to change it up a bit. I’m thinking about adding biking and hiking and maybe a little bit of Crossfit. People will just have to show up next year and see what we’re all about!
How To Get Involved with Catholic STL Running Club
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