Saint Ralph has a message we can all use these days

There aren’t a lot of things that get me all teary. Maybe the bill for an auto repair, a tax bill, definitely the grocery bill with all of these kids – especially those home from college.

But I actually watched a movie – one I’m sure will bring out the critics – that left me both emotional and inspired. Talk about a miracle.

Actually, I watched the 2004 movie – Saint Ralph – after the dog woke me up and I realized it was on Starz. I had probably missed the first 30 minutes. For some reason it caught my attention. I’m not sure why but I also watched Toy Story 3 over the weekend so go figure,

According to, “Saint Ralph is the unlikely story of Ralph Walker, a ninth grader who outran everyone’s expectations except his own in his bold quest of trying to win the 1954 Boston Marathon.”

Here’s the storyline posted on the site: “It’s the 1953/54 school year at St. Magnus Catholic School in Hamilton, Ontario. Fourteen year old Ralph Walker is in many ways a typical teenager. He is experimenting with smoking and is openly preoccupied with the opposite sex, which makes him the brunt of jokes amongst his male classmates and which constantly gets him into trouble with the school’s strict headmaster, Father Fitzpatrick. As penance and to redirect his energies, Father Fitzpatrick orders Ralph to join the school’s cross country running team under the tutelage of the school’s avant-garde thinking teacher, Father Hibbert. Some of the more unusual circumstances of Ralph’s life are that he lives by himself in the family home, telling the authorities that he is living with his paternal grandparents (who are in reality deceased), and telling his widowed hospitalized mother (Ralph’s father was killed in the war) that he is staying with a friend…”

Now I didn’t attend Catholic school so it wasn’t that aspect of the movie. I think it was more of the Ralph the underdog plot that grabbed me. Adam Butcher played Ralph Walker and he did a great job. He played the role well and you definitely sympathized with young Ralph as he dealt with enough crap for anyone let alone a 14-year-old. He had problems at school, his mom was in a coma, he lived by himself and the school leaders weren’t exactly being nice to him. In fact, the mere mention of him running the Boston Marathon led to a threat of expulsion from the headmaster.

So the fact that he was defiant in terms of the obstacles placed before him I thought were compelling and inspiring. He ran the marathon and nearly won – but he fell short which he thought meant he was a failure. But his return to school was a joyous event with applause coming from the oddest of people.

The final 50 yards of the Boston Marathon seemed to last forever and it grabbed me. Would Ralph win? Could Ralph win? Did it matter? No, Ralph was not a loser – he was a winner. He just didn’t realize it.

Sure it was sappy and the plot was sometimes predictable, but in these times of stress and a continuous feeling of doom, aren’t we all deserving of some inspiration?

I felt for Ralph. I felt the things he felt. Those of us who had some rough times growing up can feel for Ralph. We pull for people like Ralph, fictional character or not. It’s why people like movies with heroes like Rudy, Rocky, whoever is fighting the big fight.

So call me a sap, or whatever you want to call me, I welcomed some inspiration and something to tug at my heart. It’s good once in awhile to have your heart ripped a little. It makes you remember you are human and that in reality, there are lots of “Ralphs” out there. I think we sometimes get caught up in everything going on and we forget that life is happening. People are suffering, people are achieving, people are failing and sometimes people are winning.

“Ralph” was a winner. And I hope all of the other Ralphs realize it.

— Andy Hachadorian

About fromtheeditorchair

I am the editor of the Daily Local News.
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4 Responses to Saint Ralph has a message we can all use these days

  1. Adam Butcher says:

    Hey Andy
    I’m glad you like Saint Ralph.

    Adam Butcher

  2. Helene Grondines says:

    I’ve just watched the movie on tv.
    It deeply touched me.
    But the end left me perplex…
    What happened to the boy afterwards?
    Did his mother come out of coma?
    I looked up on Wiki and could find nothing.
    Does anyone know more about the afterwards?

    • Paul B-G says:

      The mother awoke from her coma, Ralf kissed the love of his life and began training for the Olympics. The theme of the movie is that miracles do happen… everyday… if we have eyes to see them. And what’s even more important than the miracle itself, is the seeking of the miracle by living a life of faithful love.

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