August 26, 2016

Fall Athlete Prayer Service

Yesterday, the first day of classes, all of the fall athletes and coaches gathered in the gym after school for a brief prayer service.  I mentioned how gatherings like this are a reminder that our Catholic faith and our Catholic identity permeates everything that we do, not just in theology classes or campus ministry.

We began with a brief Liturgy of the Word where students proclaimed readings and a psalm refrain followed by a reflection by me (see below).  I then called up all of the coaches and presented the head coaches with an icon of St. John Baptist de la Salle, a medal of the Guardian Angel to all coaches and asst. coaches, and a prayer book to the new coaches.  We then offered a prayer for the coaches and then the athletes followed by us together praying the Lord's Prayer.  Mr. Polak, our athletic director, then offered his customary speech on sportsmanship.

Best of luck to all of our student-athletes this fall!  Go Pioneers!

Take a moment to look around at the banners in this gym.  The long, thin banners list all of the Catholic high schools that existed in Manchester and the bigger banners over near the exits list all of the championships our schools have won over the years.  Take a moment to soak in the history and legacies that have come before us.

On Monday, the faculty and staff of Trinity High School began the academic year with a retreat over at St. Joseph Cathedral here in Manchester.  We then walked down to the original Catholic high school here in Manchester, St. Joseph’s High School for Boys which was located across the street from the Red Arrow.  This school opened 130 years ago this fall and existed until 1951 when the school moved here and was named Bishop Bradley High School.  In 1970, Bishop Bradley merged with St. Anthony’s and Immaculata High Schools to create Trinity High School.  It was incredibly powerful for me (and I hope the other teachers) to stand on the same ground as the Pioneers of Catholic schools here in Manchester.  You and I are the standard bearers of their work and continue to carry on the long traditions of those who came before us.

When St. Joseph’s was open, the team name was the “Giant Killers” as the school routinely defeated bigger schools in sports.  When Bradley opened the name was changed to the Pioneers to honor the many people who were Pioneers in Catholic education in Manchester.  You as student-athletes here at Trinity High School have an enormous amount of history and legacies to build upon.  I encourage you over the course of this fall to create your own histories and to leave legacies for the future members of the soccer, football, volleyball, cheer, and cross country teams.  Be Pioneers.

The founder of our religious order, the Christian Brothers, St. John Baptist de la Salle, never addressed sports specifically in his writings, he wrote much about the vocation of teaching  and the role students play in our salvation.  I love the following quote from de la Salle but note that I have changed it slightly to apply to our coaches:

“Since you are ambassadors and ministers of Jesus Christ in the work that you do, you represent Jesus Christ himself.  He wants your players to see Him in you and receive your coaching as if he were coaching them...your players are a letter which Christ dictates to you, which you write each day in their hearts, not with ink, but by the Spirit of God.”

In just a moment, Mr. Mailloux will present each head coach with an icon of St. John Baptist de la Salle.  May they be permanent reminders to our coaches of the powerful vocation they have to form our athletes into young men and women of faith, scholarship, and character.  In return, may our athletes let their light shine on the court, the ice, and the track this winter and help bring glory to God...and the Pioneers! 

May God the Father bless our coaches and players this winter season, as they look to imitate God the Son, all with the help and guidance of God the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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