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By Tony DeGol
The Catholic Register

Praying the Rosary should not be considered a workout.

Or should it?

“It was amazing,” proclaimed Helen Dugan. “It was letting your mind go and mixing it with exercise, and being able to release your mind and give yourself to God.”

Dugan was describing her experience with SoulCore – a movement that aims to nourish body and soul by combining core strengthening exercises and prayer.

A SoulCore workshop was held at Saint Michael Parish in St. Michael on Saturday, January 12.

Dugan, one of about 40 people who attended, typically engages in a workout routine that includes cycling, stretching, and a mix of yoga and Pilates. The SoulCore experience offered a new twist.

“I was really able to clear my mind, and that was the best part of this,” added Dugan, a member of the parish.

Father Brian Warchola, administrator of Saint Michael, encouraged Dugan and most of the other attendees to give it a try.

“Fitness is very popular right now with a lot of people,” Father Warchola admitted. “This is something that combines fitness with Catholic devotions. I saw the two come together and, of course, we’re mind, body, and spiritual beings so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to try something different, something that can inspire people to have that great devotion to our Lady and worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Mallory Hurley regularly leads SoulCore workshops at Saint Bernard Parish in Pittsburgh. She directed the Saint Michael gathering at the invitation of Father Warchola.

“It’s really all about saying the Rosary and really growing in the fruits of the mysteries of the Rosary,” she said.

Hurley first experienced the movement about two years ago when she was pregnant with her daughter.

“I just fell in love with this way to honor God through your body in a way that took away that sense of vanity and working out for me – just surrendering to God and being healthy,” she added.

Hurley leads SoulCore workshops twice a week in Pittsburgh and has regular participants each time.

The Saint Michael workshop attracted everyone from 20-something young adults to young-at-heart women in their 70s and 80s.

“You can bring people from all walks of life, of all ages, and you’re praying the Rosary, which is the core of it, but you’re coming together in something that’s more common, which is exercise, and you’re allowing yourself to be more open to the Rosary and then you immerse yourself in what the Rosary really holds for us, which is growing in holiness,” Hurley mentioned.

Ashley Gray owns a gym in Ebensburg and tried SoulCore at Saint Michael.

“Today was really enjoyable,” noted the parishioner of Holy Name in Ebensburg. “It felt like it brought me closer to God, and I was able to enjoy my passion for fitness, so combine the two, and it was an amazing experience.”

Gray brought a group from her gym, including her grandmother, and felt SoulCore would be a great experience for even those who do not regularly exercise.

Father Warchola hopes it is the start of something great.

“Maybe this will inspire a few of our parishioners to want to be leaders and perhaps have this on a weekly or monthly basis here at the parish or somewhere else in the diocese,” he offered. “I’m always open to trying different things that really help us grow in our Catholic faith, and this is one of them.”

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