For the fifth year, the little known path that connects the grounds of the Viatorian Province Center with the back fields of Saint Viator High School, took center stage. The occasion was the St. Viator Invitational, which drew eight high school cross-country teams and 18 middle school teams to compete, or nearly 1,000 runners.

Runners enter the Province Center grounds from Saint Viator High School.

It is widely anticipated as the first event of the season, in part because of its surprisingly beautiful course. For the last five years, the course has featured a loop weaving runners from the Saint Viator field, slightly uphill through the narrow opening to the Province Center grounds, around its building and wooded property, and back through the opening to the high school. Runners completed this loop three times to finish the 3-mile race.

On hand to cheer the runners on was Fr. Alan Syslo, CSV, a former marathon runner himself now retired and living at the Province Center. While he no longer runs, he walks several miles each day, enjoying the outdoors and the beauty of God’s creation.

Associate Jason Kuffel, Saint Viator athletic director, monitors the course.

“Way to go, keep it up,” he shouted as the first group of junior varsity girls entered the Province Center grounds.

Fr. Alan Syslo, right, cheers on runners.

Nearby, another fan took in the race. Tim Phillips was a state medalist in cross-country in 1983 and up until last year, he held the record at Saint Viator for the 3-mile run.

“Back in my day, this property was off-limits,” he said as he watched runners enter the Province Center grounds. “I’m so glad they opened it up. It’s a beautiful course.”

In looping the two properties together, Viatorians demonstrated their commitment to young people — not only in faith development — but by opening up their home.