Rally Nuns bring their spirit to one of largest 5K school races in nation: Steps for Students in downtown Houston Feb. 12

February 8, 2022

Steps for Students 5K Run/Walk, one of the largest annual Archdiocesan events, is set for Feb. 12, 2022 in downtown Houston by the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

It is a USA Track and Field-certified and sanctioned event, chip-timed and features a single-loop. Or one can register just to support and hit Snooze for Students button without having to run.

So far, more than 7,000 people have registered with $341,000 raised. The funds go back directly to the schools, which have used them to buy new textbooks, multi-media equipment as well as for student tuition assistance.

One of the runners, Sister Mary Magdalene Nguyen is a religious member of the Dominican Sisters of Mary Immaculate Province, recently nicknamed the “Rally Nuns.”

But years before any national fame from cheering on the Astros in the 2021 World Series and throwing out opening pitches, the sisters have participated in another important athletic event – running and walking in the Archdiocese’s Steps for Students 5K in support of Catholic education.

The large group of about 30 nuns – running three or four together spread out throughout the race crowd – usually catches the eyes of spectators and participants alike with their long white habits and black veils flapping in the wind.

This year the Dominican Sisters of Mary Immaculate Province already have more than 30 of its Vietnamese religious registering to run and walk the course, said Sister Magdalene, who now serves as the local order’s director of its Mission Office.

“When students see their own teachers running or rallying, it brings unity, which is always a beautiful sight to embrace. I am so appreciative of the parents and all their support,” she said.

Sister Maria Theresa Kim Hong, OP, Provincial Superior, said her sisters, whether they teach or do other duties, are very supportive of their Houston-area students.

“For more than a decade, many members of my religious community have participated in Steps for Students with so much enthusiasm,” Sister Maria Theresa said. “Annually, we would rise very early to pray Lauds (morning prayers), attend the Opening Mass at 6:30 a.m. at the Co-Cathedral for Steps and then make our way to the starting line!”

The winner in her order for the most years running goes to Sister Bernadette Nguyen. She has run since the first Steps for Students when it started in 2005.

“So that would mean 17 years ago! I was teaching at an inner-city Catholic school during that time and it was a much-needed fundraiser for our school,” Sister Bernadette said.

“But most importantly, it was a great event where our students, faculty and staff benefitted from the generosity of so many people in the city of Houston while also having the opportunity to be together as a Catholic school family,” she said.

Now an instructional specialist at St. Cecilia Catholic School in Memorial, Sister Bernadette said, “Steps for Students is also a fun opportunity for us to show our support for all the Catholic schools within the Archdiocese, share the joy we possess as religious sisters and evangelize through our presence at the event.”

The Archdiocesan School Superintendent Debra Haney said, “The Catholic School office thanks the Dominican Sisters of Mary Immaculate Province for their strong support over the years. We truly appreciate their participation in Steps for Students, but even more so for being such great role models for our students.”

To register or for more information, www.steps4students.org