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The New Evangelization and the Olympics

Fr. Robert Barron, the new rector of the Mundelein Seminary located next door to our offices, has a great article on the New Evangelization and Seminaries. As the founder of Word on Fire and the creator of the popular Catholicism series seen on PBS, Fr. Barron has a good perspective on what is needed to be an evangelizer of the culture. Here are his thoughts for seminarians:

1) You must have fervor. Something like the “palpable excitement” one finds on the pages of the Gospels, Epistles and Book of Revelation

2) You must be rooted in the Bible and the theological tradition of the Catholic Church: history, art, spiritual masters, Councils, etc.

3) You must know the culture. Aristotle said, “Whatever is received is received according to the mode of the recipient.” A Protestant theologian once said that evangelists should carry a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.

4) You must be conversant with the New Media: Facebook, YouTube, podcasting, etc.

What does this have to do with the Olympics? Vatican Radio reports that daily mass attendance at the Olympic Village is high. Three masses are offered every day. At the same time, young Catholics from around the world are attending Joshua Camp, held in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium. There the young men and women attended daily catechesis, prayer vigils, Eucharistic Adoration and Mass. Today, they pack up their tents and mingle with the crowds, both the athletes and the poor who live in the area.

Says James Parker, Catholic Executive Coordinator for the 2012 London Games, “The Joshua Camp is about going to the poor and needy on the periphery of the Games and saying ‘come and see what its all about’ and not only but also ‘come and take part of this great banquet that God’s got prepared for us’”.

This strikes me as the New Evangelization truly in action. God bless all the Catholics who are making the Olympics an opportunity to draw close to the Lord.

Carrying a Flag for Christ

The Catholic Community of London is prepared for the influx of visitors and is offering athletes and visitors alike a place of repose and renewal during the Olympic Games. St. Francis of Assisi Parish in East London has adoration from 9:00am to 6:00 pm while 2 other parishes pick up the remaining hours. The parish will also offer evening prayer and healing services. Says Franciscan Father Francis Conway, “We’re flying the flag for Christ if you like.” One of their early visitors was an Archbishop from  Puerto Rico who celebrated mass for the Puerto Rican Olympic team.

Some of the star athletes are not keeping their faith under a bushel basket, according to  Zenit. Missy Franklin, a swimmer who won an unexpected gold medal in the 100m backstroke, attends Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado. “Every day over the last three years, my faith has grown. One of my favorite times is going to our beautiful school chapel and spending time with God. This year, I attended Kairos with my Regis Jesuit sisters and it changed my life forever. I now really work on keeping my faith strong,” she said.

Jordyn Wieber, who kept me up late last night watching the US gymnastics team win a team gold medal, says her “parents have always made going to church as a family important. Sometimes we have to split up due to our schedules, but most of the time we are able to get to Mass together. It’s a very special family time and it means a lot to me.”

Finally, Lopez Lomong, a member of the US track team, was abducted at age 6 while attending a Mass in the Sudan and sent to  a rebel camp. He escaped and ten years after his abduction, Catholic Charities arranged for him to begin a new life in America. He says,  “God blessed me and gave me a lot of strength to be faithful and more determined with my life to overcome obstacles.” He was the flag bearer for the US during the 2008 Olympiad. He will be running in the 5000m men’s race.

May all the athletes perform at their best and may their love for God shine for all to see.

An Olympian Goes For the Eternal Prize

The National Catholic Register has an article in the current issue (July 15-28, 2012) about a former Olympian who is now a Franciscan Sister of the Renewal. Sr. Catherine Holum was an American speed-skater at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Appropriately enough, she is stationed in England where the XXX Olympiad will kick off on July 27th.  Her mother Dianne has 4 Olympics medals.

When she was 16, Sr. Catherine had a profound experience of faith while on a pilgrimage to Fatima but fell away from her faith while she attained a degree in photography from the Art Institute in Chicago. However, she was always pro-life and encountering a group of pro-life young people who were on a walk across America changed her life. Here she witnessed joyous, zealous Catholics whose love for Jesus really made a difference in their lives. When she encountered the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal at World Youth Day in Toronto, she felt the same attraction in her heart that she had felt for these young people. She joined the community in 2003.

Heaven, she says, is eternal glory. Winning a gold meal is only brief glory.