An afternoon of “Sport and Faith”

Everyone knows that in 2024, the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in France, and for the most part in Seine-Saint-Denis, a department bordering Paris. 

On Saturday 9 March 2024, the secondary school chaplaincies and the CCFD (Catholic Committee against Hunger and for Development) invited young people to an afternoon of “Sport and Faith” under the title “The Solidarity Olympics”.

Eighty young boys and girls accepted the invitation. During the afternoon, each group took part in a range of sports – archery, basketball, etc. – in which values and counter-values were discussed in order to agree on what would be reported to the other groups.  Here are a few instructions: “Stay motivated, don’t blame others, tolerance, perseverance, courage, mutual aid, respect, solidarity, commitment. In the end, 3 words were chosen: trust, solidarity and perseverance, because, as in our faith, we try to live these attitudes every day at school by spreading joy and brotherhood around us.

After a snack, Gilles, an 18-year-old law student and football referee, gave his account of “Sport and Faith”. Here are a few extracts:
“I was baptised and received Holy Communion, and I went to the Cabrini Catholic school, which caters for pupils from nursery school through to higher education.
” … My relationship with God wasn’t always easy, I didn’t really feel Christian, I didn’t have that spark. One day something just clicked, and how?  I can’t really say: I got up, had breakfast, then went on the internet to find the Bible and started reading Genesis 1 and 2… It was by reading these stories that I felt Christian, because I was discovering the values that the Bible transmits: perseverance, friendship, love of neighbour, essential Christian values in everyday life…”.
“When it comes to sport, I’ve always loved football; I’ve been a player, a coach and now a referee. When you’re a referee, you have no right to make mistakes, you have to be upright and disciplined, and discipline is also found in faith: God?  One day we love him, another day we don’t, it’s always the same! “

 The afternoon ended with a celebration of the Eucharist at the parish church, where Chloé also shared her experience of the February holidays in Taizé (home to an ecumenical Christian monastic community):
“In February, I went to Taizé with other young people from the department and from all over the world.  It was a great experience of prayer and sharing. By being with others, we discovered the values of solidarity and fraternity, if only by singing, by living times of praise, and also by giving free service in discovering the world and the universal Church. Frankly, in our lives as young people, this is an important moment that we hope everyone will be able to experience.”

To conclude, this refrain was sung:
“And if sport could heal the earth
From all these ills, from all these wars
Become the promising axis
For the birth of a better world.”

Sister Juliette HOUDEMOND, DHS – Published on 16 March 2024