Pastors among Steps for Students runners; not too late to register or donate

February 12, 2019

Father Jude Ezuma, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Galveston pauses after running in Steps for Students last year. Herald file photo.

HOUSTON — The 14th Annual Steps for Students 5K Run/Walk is fast approaching Saturday, Feb. 16, with those interested still able to register online or on race day to join pastors, students and their families to raise funds and awareness for Catholic education.

A Steps for Students Sunrise Mass begins at 6:30 a.m. at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in downtown Houston with runners wearing athletic gear. Then the start blast and confetti on the course outside the Co-Cathedral kicks off the 5K at 8 a.m. with a post-race party and awards starting by 9 a.m.

Steps for Students benefits the network of 60 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, bringing together school communities, parishioners, community partners and runners from across 10 counties. 

Several pastors of churches with schools are continuing their tradition to run in the 5K or cheer on their schools. Father Albert Zanatta, CRS, of Assumption Catholic Church and School off of Airline Road has helped raise more than $91,000 in comparison to the larger schools that have been averaging about $5,000.

“We get our church involved because the school couldn’t do it alone. Our parishioners organize lunches and dinners to raise funds and we receive other generous donations,” Father Zanatta said.

He plans to race after temporarily dying his hair blue to match the school’s color and T-shirts.

“It’s important to be out there to inspire the people and our students,” he said.

Father T.J. Dolce, pastor of St. Martha Catholic Church and School in Kingwood, said he has run in the 5K for at least seven years.

“It’s a great event and one of the most fun. Plus, it brings awareness and support to Catholic education,” said Father Dolce, who has at times worn a head sweatband with a white-collar design.

Coming the farthest and the earliest on race day, Father Jude Ezuma, pastor of Holy Family Parish and School in Galveston, is traveling with more than 200 students starting at 5 a.m. from Galveston County.

Father Ezuma said, “I was a beneficiary of a Catholic education and it helped form me into the person I am and am becoming. I want us to be living testimony of how God with Catholic education strengthens your faith and helps us to contribute to society. I want our children to have that opportunity.”

Father Clint Ressler, a chaplain with the Texans football team and pastor of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church in Texas City, also oversees Our Lady of Fatima School in Texas City. 

“For a school like Our Lady of Fatima, the biggest impact of Steps for Students donations are for the families who otherwise could not afford a Catholic Education. We want to empower struggling families to be able to send their children here.

“For me personally, running in the event is a personal challenge. But probably even more than that, I love seeing the huge crowds of students, parents, teachers, priests and religious sisters. There’s an awesome energy throughout the morning.”

Steps for Students, a USA Track and Field certified and sanctioned event, is chip-timed and features a single-loop. The registration fee is $30. Donations can be given on the website up until Feb. 22. 

For more information, registration and to donate, visit