My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Our diocese is blessed with seven Catholic high schools located across central Illinois: Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield, St. Teresa High School in Decatur, Marquette Catholic High School in Alton, Routt Catholic High School in Jacksonville, Quincy Notre Dame High School in Quincy, St. Anthony Catholic High School in Effingham and the newest: Father McGivney Catholic High School in Glen Carbon, which was founded in 2012. All seven of these Catholic high schools provide excellent academics, religious formation, athletics and other extracurricular activities. These various components of our Catholic high schools are not separate silos with no connection to each other. All of them work together with the goal of educating well-rounded individuals who are grounded in the values of the Catholic faith and are prepared intellectually, emotionally and spiritually for successful careers and family life as responsible citizens.
A couple of ways that we make the connection between the world of sports and the life of faith for our students are through two initiatives called Sports Leader and Catholic Athletes for Christ. Sports Leader is a Catholic virtue-based formation program for coaches and directors of sports ministry. The four pillars of Sports Leader are: virtue, mentoring, ceremony and Catholic identity. It provides schools and teams with a structured, intentional and specific method and curriculum to help form leaders and teach virtue. It is designed for coaches to integrate into their practice schedule.
Catholic Athletes for Christ (CAC) seeks to develop and promote solid Catholic role models. Each of the Catholic high schools in our diocese has a CAC chapter that meets before or after school or during free periods during the school day. CAC’s mission is to serve Catholic athletes and share the Gospel of Christ in and through athletics. CAC’s goal is to provide an integrated network of sports oriented clergy and lay people to serve Catholic athletes, coaches, and staff in the practice of their faith and to utilize the unique platform given to them to reach the world for Jesus Christ and his church.
Twice a year we schedule an event for all of our high school chapters of Catholic Athletes for Christ. In the spring, we have our Senior Springboard event to honor our graduating seniors. This past spring our featured speaker was Father Chase Hilgenbrinck, a former professional soccer player who gave up his career in professional soccer to become a priest. Father Hilgenbrinck is a priest of the Diocese of Peoria and is now associate chaplain at St John’s Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois in Champaign.
Our fall event is our Rosary Rally, which will take place at the end of this month on Oct. 30 at 2 p.m.. It will actually be located at three sites simultaneously, connected by video conference for live-streaming the parts of the event that will be shared by everyone. Students will attend their regional site, as follows: St. Teresa High School (Decatur) and Sacred Heart Griffin will meet at SHG in Springfield; Routt Catholic High School (Jacksonville) and Quincy Notre Dame will meet at QND in Quincy; and Marquette Catholic High School (Alton), Father McGivney Catholic High School (Glen Carbon) and St. Anthony High School (Effingham) will meet at St. Anthony’s in Effingham. This year I will be at SHG in Springfield, but will rotate to be at the other sites in future years. All three sites will be linked by video to live-stream my talk and for all of us to pray the rosary together. Each of the three locations will then have live testimonials and its own benediction conducted by a priest locally on site.
Since the month of October is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary and is also designated as Respect Life Month, it is fitting that our students, teachers and coaches who are involved in Catholic Athletes for Christ and Sports Leader will join me and our priests in praying the rosary, asking our Blessed Mother to instill in our young people and in our society a greater respect for all human life from conception to natural death.
It would be wonderful for all Catholics of our diocese to use these remaining weeks of October to pray the rosary for the intentions of our students and respect for life.
May God give us this grace. Amen.