The Catholic University of America

Nov. 25, 2008

CUA's Catholic Athletes for Christ Attend Retreat
First Collegiate Chapter of National Organization Created at CUA

(Left to right) Junior Andrew Smith, senior Rachel Tenuta, senior Sarah Luffy, senior Pat Quintana, junior Kelly Szal and senior Kyle Bakas show off a trophy they won on the Catholic Athletes for Christ retreat.

About 30 Catholic University athletes prayed and played sports together Nov. 21 to Nov. 23 on the first retreat sponsored by CUA's new Catholic Athletes for Christ (CAC) chapter. The CUA athletes began meeting this fall as members of the first collegiate chapter associated with the national organization that was created to minister to athletes.

"We have always - but especially in recent years - felt that there was a hunger for spirituality in our athletes," says Rev. Robert Schlageter, O.F.M. Conv., university chaplain and director of campus ministry.

Although athletes often live by different schedules, often more demanding than students not competing in sports, "they have wanted to participate in the spiritual life on campus," says Father Bob, as Rev. Schlageter is called on campus. Father Bob and senior economics major and baseball player Patrick Quintana started looking for a way to encourage spirituality among athletes and provide them with the ministry they were seeking.

Catholic Athletes for Christ was missing a collegiate presence and Catholic University was missing the presence of an organization, like CAC, that would cater to the specific spiritual needs of athletes.

Father Bob approached Ray McKenna, founder of CAC, about forming a collegiate chapter, and this fall CUA became the first and only college to create one, helping both groups fill what was missing. The CUA group will provide a model for CAC chapters on other college campuses.

Kelly Szal participates in the high ropes course at CUA's first CAC retreat.

Catholic Athletes for Christ works with athletes to promote a Catholic sports culture. It provides a network of sports-oriented clergy and lay people to serve athletes and help them practice their faith. It also has a network of Catholic speakers and organizes conferences, pilgrimages and retreats.

"I think we've been successful (at CUA) because everyone had a stake in the group," Quintana says. During the first meetings, the interested members discussed what they believed the organization's mission and virtues should be. They decided together how to organize the meetings and retreats.

The CUA group has successfully attracted 20 to 40 members to each Monday night meeting since forming officially at the end of September. They have speakers or watch movies at meetings. Speakers have included members of Campus Ministry, local priests or someone from the chapter talking about scripture or a saint whose life might relate to athletes.

CUA chapter members also teamed up with CUA's Alpha Phi Omega to host Kids on Campus Day earlier this month, an event designed to entertain children from neighboring communities before a CUA football game.