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Ask The Times: Who were those runners in black along McEver Road on Wednesday?
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A statue of Saint John Paul II stands outside of Saint John Paul II Roman Catholic Mission on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following question was submitted by a reader and answered through the efforts of our news staff.

Who were the group of people dressed in black walking on or along McEver Road near Free Chapel Wednesday night?

Runners for the Guadalupe Torch Run.

The Guadalupe Torch Run is an almost 3,000-mile run that connects the Catholic faith with political and social debates surrounding immigration and citizenship. 

The event starts in Mexico on Sept. 1 at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City and finishes Dec. 12 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. 

The runners go through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. 

Each state has a coordinator that organizes the runs, parish stops and communicates with the other states.

Georgia’s coordinator is Leonardo Jaramillo. Jaramillo “picks up” the runners at the Alabama border, and leads them to five parishes throughout Georgia, until they meet up at the South Carolina border with the next state coordinator, according to Paula Cadavid, Jaramillo’s wife.

“It’s not a relay or a march, it’s a run,” Cadavid said, “There’s about four runners at a time that trade out.”

The runners spotted in Gainesville on Wednesday night were coming from Our Lady of The Americas Catholic Mission in Lilburn, and going to St. John Paul II Mission in Gainesville. 

The runners hold torches, authentic images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and signs. The signs state things such as “Let’s pray for peace around the world.”

The Association of Tepeyac in New York started the run in 2002, and it continues to grow stronger with more support each year, according to Cadavid. 

The purpose of the run is for the “dignity of immigrants,” according to Cadavid.

“We join ourselves all under one faith to request the protection of Our Lady during migration,” Cadavid said. 

Regional events