Pope encourages athletes to play for the Church

Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square for the Italian Sporting Center's June 7 events. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez / CNA

Youth from around Italy turned St. Peter’s Square into a giant playing field on Saturday as they ran relays, played basketball and performed karate on a day dedicated to the celebration of sports.

As the Pope arrived in the overflowing square participants welcomed him as their “captain.” He thanked them for the honor.

“As captain I urge you not to block yourselves off in defense, but to come on the offense, to play together our match, which is that of the Gospel,” he said May 7.

“Sports in the community can be a great missionary tool, where the Church is close to every person to help them become better and to meet Jesus Christ,” he told the enthusiastic crowds.

Pope Francis arrived in the early evening to witness performances of ballet and gymnastics. He also met with popular Italian sports figures and heard testimonies from those whose lives has been impacted positively by sports.

At one point, he met with members of an Italian amputee soccer team and posed for a group shot with one member’s iPhone as the theme song from the 1981 movie “Chariots of Fire” rang out over the square.

The Pope’s remarks focused on how sports can bring about good in the lives of young people. He noted that sports are like school and work in helping youth develop themselves and avoid addictions to drugs and alcohol.

He said that to belong to a sports team “means to reject all forms of selfishness and isolation--it is an opportunity to meet and be with others, to help each other, to compete in mutual esteem and grow in brotherhood.”

The pontiff acknowledged the “beauty” of team sports which do not allow for individualism.

“In my country,” he recounted to the youth, “when a player plays only for himself, they say, ‘this one wants to eat the ball!’”

Everyone who wants to join in sports should be welcomed, he said, “not just the best, but everyone, with the advantages and limitations that everyone has, indeed, focusing on the most disadvantaged, as did Jesus.”

He encouraged the young athletes to apply themselves in “the game of life” as they do in sports.

“Put yourselves in the game, in the search for good, in the Church and in society, without fear, with courage, and enthusiasm.”

“Don’t content yourselves with a mediocre ‘tie.’ Give the best of yourselves, spending your lives for that which is truly valuable and that which lasts forever.”

Pope Francis closed his remarks asking for prayers that he would be able to “play in the game” of life “until the last day when God calls me to himself.”

Saturday’s event was organized by the Centro Sportivo Italiano, on the occasion of its 70th anniversary.


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Events

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February 6, 2016

  • Saturday, February, 6

    Second Annual Sisters of Notre Dame Nun Run 5K & 1-Mile Fun Run, 8 a.m., Hosted by the Sisters of Notre Dame and La Reina High School and Middle School in Thousand Oaks. Course starts on Dover Avenue in Thousand Oaks and finishes in front of La Reina School. Open to runners and walkers of all ages and ability levels. Professional chip timing technology will be provided to 5K runners by Vendurance Sports. Participants will receive a free T-shirt (while supplies last); pancake breakfast available after the race. Pre-registration is $35 per person for the 5K, and $25 for the 1-Mile. All proceeds support the Sisters of Notre Dame Life and Ministry Fund, allowing the sisters to continue their ministries in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. For more information, contact Chloe Vieira at cvieira@sndca.org, or visit sndca.org/nunrun. 

    Math Competition for Middle School Students & Problem-Solving Workshop for Teachers, 7:45 a.m., Don Bosco Technical Institute, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead.A mathematics competition for fifth through eighth grade students. The 44th annual event will offer awards for the highest scoring individual and teams. Participants must register by Feb. 2 atwww.boscotech.edu/events. Space is limited. The cost is $8 per individual and $5 per person for teams of four or more, up to 15. Check-in begins at 7:45 a.m.; one-hour test starts at 9 a.m. Free activities offered and food available for purchase. Award ceremony follows the competition at 11 a.m. For more information, contact Valeria De Luna at MathCompetition@boscotech.edu.

     

    San Fernando Regional Day of Prayer for the RCIA, 1 - 4:30 p.m., St. John Baptist De La Salle Church, 16555 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills. An afternoon of prayer for those who will celebrate the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion this Lent. Catechumens, candidates, sponsors and team members will come together in prayer with Bishop Joseph V. Brennan. To register or for more information, contact Sandy Cole at (818) 368-1514 or dre@sjbdls.org.

     

    Second Annual Valentine's Dinner/Dance, 7 p.m., St. James School - O'Gorman Center, 4625 Garnet St., Torrance.Dance music from the 50's to the present; $20 per person. Proceeds will benefit our seminarians. For more information, call the parish office at (310) 372-5228, or Ely at (310) 944-3355.  

     

    Snowflake Swing Dinner/Dance, 6 p.m. to midnight,St. Francis of Assisi Church, 1523 Golden Gate Ave., Los Angeles. Great food, door prizes and dancing (assorted music), featuring the LA Trio. Tickets $25; RSVP by Feb. 2. For reservations, call Liza at (323) 664-1305 or Renee at (213) 413-3036. 

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