The Catholic University of America

Dec. 21, 2012

Retreat Combines Faith And Sports

  Athletes retreat 1

Student athletes celebrate Mass with Rev. Marek Stybor, O.F.M. Conv, associate chaplain for faith development.

Athletes from many of Catholic University’s sports teams withdrew from the demands and noises of life and looked inward in reflection and prayer on a recent spiritual retreat at Camp St. Charles in Southern Maryland.

The annual retreat, held during the weekend of Nov. 16, 17, and 18, came between sport seasons for many of the team members, allowing them some downtime to reconnect with their own faith, and to make new friends at the same time.

Seventeen students participated in small-group discussion, prayed the Rosary, and attended Mass together. They also enjoyed team-building exercises that included a ropes challenge course, canoeing, and other activities on the camp grounds along the Wicomico River and Charleston Creek.

The retreat was an opportunity for the athletes, from freshmen to seniors, to share their faith with like-minded students. “You often find within the athletics’ culture, there is a lot these students have to fight against,” said Luke Hlavin, associate campus minister for retreats and men's ministry. “You have a lot of behavior [in society] that isn’t conducive to a life of faith.

“It’s also about empowering these students as they go forth on their teams, to encourage them,” Hlavin added.

“The transformation of any part of any organization has to come from within the organization. You’re not going to be able to change a team just because the coach says everybody needs to go to Mass, rather because they see a teammate living that life.”

Tennis player Andrea Ingram, a junior politics major with a minor in theology, said she was glad to be able to get away. “We all have fall seasons, so we aren’t able to go on our class trips,” Ingram said. “Right now the girls are undefeated, we’re 6 and 0. We have a good record and we’re pretty proud of it.”

Rose Hannan, a freshman softball player majoring in nursing, noted “We went to Catholic University to live out our faith.” She said she enjoyed meeting other athletes she wouldn’t normally meet during the school year. 

"I really like coming out here,” said football player John Funk, a junior majoring in media studies. He plays wide receiver during the football season. “It’s very peaceful and away from everything, and it’s a good chance to reflect on your life and your relationship with God, to get away from everything and focus on your faith.”

To view a photo gallery of the retreat, visit




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