|Catholic Athletes for Christ helps athletes keep their faith strong while competing.|
Ray McKenna, a Washington-based attorney, has been busy recently at baseball spring training camps in Arizona and Florida. As a former minor-league baseball chaplain, McKenna knows the strain that being an athlete can place on religious commitments, so he founded Catholic Athletes for Christ 10 years ago.
“The service is to provide the sacraments to the players so the players are able to practice their faith,” McKenna says.
When he worked as a chaplain, he could give spiritual advice, but could not provide players with the sacraments. "The result of that logically was that players were leaving the Catholic faith and becoming so-called non-denominational, born-again Christians and not understanding and receiving the fullness of our Catholic faith," he says.
The organization now has a network of priests who hear confession and celebrate Mass at stadiums, clubhouses, and practice fields. It also coordinates events with the Vatican’s Church and Sports office within the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Knights of Columbus.
While the organization had only focused on professional athletes in the past, it now has a program for middle-school and high-school athletes as well, helping them to work with their sports schedules to make time for faith.
Tyler Flowers, catcher for the Chicago White Sox, is very grateful for the services that Catholic Athletes for Christ provides, saying, "They do a great job helping us. We can have Mass at the stadium at the majority of places we go."
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