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Fr Vlad Feltzmann 1banner.JPG
Fr Vlad Feltzmann 1.JPG
World News

Musical Marathon as priest continues epic challenge

by Donna Birrell

An 82 year old priest has this weekend started walking the final ten half marathons of his epic challenge of completing 52 laps of an athletics track 83 times over the coming year.

Prof Monsignor Vladimir Felzmann, known as Fr Vlad, is hoping to raise £500,000 to replace the St Mary's University, Twickenham Chapel Organ.

Fr Vlad set himself the challenge earlier this year to mark his 52 years as a priest and his 83rd year of life. So far he's raised over £50,000 from a range of supporters and has completed 1497.6km, just over the distance from London to the Vatican City.

Fr Vlad wanted a challenge that would combine his love for music and sport. Having originally come to the UK as a refugee from Czechoslovakia after World War Two, sport has been a key part of Fr Vlad's life. He found when joining a British school for the first time, that through competitive athletics and playing football he was able to make friends when he couldn't speak English.

With 52 laps of the university's Sir Mo Farah Athletics Track coming in at 20.8km, just 300m short of a half marathon, Fr Vlad has completed each of his track sessions in around four hours. 

The Chapel is at the heart of the St Mary's University life. With Mass said there daily for the local and University community, it is also an important venue for Christian communities.

In recent years the Chapel has welcomed Pope Benedict XVI, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople of the Eastern Orthodox Church Bartholomew I of Constantinople, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rt Rev Rt Hon Prof Baron Rowan Williams, and the then Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland Rt Rev Richard Clarke.

Fr Vlad, who volunteered at the London 2012 Games as a Chaplain, has been passing the time completing his challenge by being joined by St Mary's students, staff and alumni for laps of the track.

Speaking of the challenge so far, Fr Vlad said, "I believe in St Mary's University, I believe in the organ's Apollonian music opening people to the presence of God, so I committed myself to walking the talk of my faith. Now that all restrictions have been lifted and the new term has started, I am looking forward to being joined by more staff and students of St Mary's as I complete my challenge."

Composer and Conductor Sir James MacMillan CBE said of the challenge, "There is something wonderful and life-enhancing when a commitment to musical excellence, a concern for beauty in the liturgy and a deep knowledge of and education in the arts all come together. These aspirations have always been dear to me.

"Therefore, I am delighted that St Mary's University is demonstrating ambition in all these fields as it approaches the celebration of its 175th anniversary. Central to this determination is the desire to give new life to the place of the organ and the profound music it can make in the University Chapel, both in liturgical and concert contexts. The renewal of this instrument would be a significant step forward and I am delighted to lend my support to this appeal."

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