Sport, education, faith: towards a new season for Catholic sports associations

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When the Servant of God John Paul II instituted the “Church and Sport” Section within the Pontifical Council for the Laity, one of the main tasks entrusted to it was that of promoting a culture of sport that works towards the integral development of the person within the sphere of the Catholic education of youth. It is in the Catholic schools, parish youth clubs, parish centres and youth associations and movements that we often find that there is an intersection of the three basic paths in the integral development of youth. These are the paths of sport, education and faith. When they work together there can be fruitful pastoral ministry that the laity can develop for the well-being of so many boys and girls.

The first seminar held by the Section in 2005 dealt with an analysis in general terms of the sporting phenomenon in contemporary society, and the seminar in 2007 studied the role of sports chaplains. Now we turn our attention, in the next seminar, to lay people involved in sport, particularly in youth and amateur sports.

In the seminar on “Sport, education, faith: a new season for Catholic sport associations”, to be held on 6 and 7 November 2009 at “Villa Aurelia” in Rome, the “Church and Sport” Section will deal with the topic of sport associations in the Catholic world. It will examine and assess the opportunities that the Catholic sport associations can offer to the mission of education and evangelisation.

The Holy Father Benedict XVI recently said something on this theme when meeting with the clergy of Rome. He asserted that parish sports clubs – and the same would go for all sports clubs run by the Church – should be a place where youth “not only find possibilities for their leisure time but above all for an integral human formation that completes the personality” (26 February 2009). We shall study in what way sport played by so many young people in Church centres can be a way of integral human training of adolescents and young people.

Delegates at the meeting will include pastoral ministers from bishops’ conferences, representatives of Catholic associations at national and international level, and personalities with vast experience and competence in professional and youth sports.

The first morning will be dedicated to studying the factors and components needed if a sporting activity is to be a “place of learning”. The panel in the afternoon will be formed by athletes and professional trainers, and they will discuss what it means to be and to train true champions, that is, to educate people in upright behaviour that becomes a style of life on and off the playing field, and not measured by celebrity or victory.

The second day will be dedicated to specific opportunities that sport associations offer in order to witness to Christ, both in direct evangelising and in the exercise of Christian charity, or in ecumenical and intercultural dialogue.

 

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