March 16, 2007


Evangelizing at all ages in life

(Listen to the author read this editorial)

Ask some people, and the litany of what’s wrong with America today could fill this page.

The ever-expanding secular society we live in, pundits tell us, has led to people accepting abortion on demand as a matter of course. It has resulted in prayer being taken out of public schools, and has led to heated debates about Christmas and how we as a society can celebrate—or not celebrate—this joyous season in our town squares and public schools.

We, as a society, have also embraced reality TV programs but continue to ignore the realities that are on our doorstep: continued poverty, high crime rates and a country whose moral compass seems to be spiraling out of control by the day.

While experts of all kinds don’t mind taking turns showcasing all that’s wrong with America—and some even take great delight in piling on to a certain extent—we should not ignore the life lessons that people of faith are teaching us, lessons that are worth emulating.

A simple soccer tournament has given a group of men a platform to showcase their athletic ability—and faith—to millions of people around the world.

The 16-team Clericus Cup, a soccer tournament for priests and seminarians being held through June in Rome, has planted a seed for sportsmanship that too often goes unnoticed in today’s “win it all, no matter what it takes” mindset that engulfs many young people and their coaches.

While the Pontifical North American College should be lauded for its early 2-0 record in the soccer tournament, its players and all players who have taken part are to be commended even more for the good example they are setting.

“This soccer tournament is not all about winning. First and foremost, it’s about evangelization,” noted Josh Waltz, a seminarian from Bismarck, N.D. “The overall principle is to show the world charity through sports—and to have fun.”

How we evangelize to others in life, through our example, is the best way to plant seeds of faith.

We can plant those seeds during Lent, during Ordinary Time or at any time during the Church year. Our Creator sets no parameters.

There is no age qualification either. Young children and teenagers can be among the group to teach us how to live our faith.

On page 1 this week, we read about students at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis who have formed a group whose goal is twofold: to raise vocational awareness in general and to encourage their peers and others beyond their school to consider the possibility that God might be calling them to a priestly or religious vocation.

Known as SERV (“Students Encouraging Religious Vocations”), the group has taken its evangelization mission to heart and spoken about vocations to students at five Catholic grade schools in the Indianapolis North Deanery and hosted a “Night of Faith and Fun” for junior high students.

This week, on page 2, we learn a life lesson from a family whose young son’s fight against cancer brought their community together.

Joey Chamness and his family share how prayer sustained them as 10-year-old Joey battled cancer two years ago. Now Joey and his school community are taking the opportunity to evangelize others about how they can help young people facing the same harrowing experience.

As a result, St. Thomas Aquinas School in Indianapolis will become the first school in Indiana to hold a schoolwide St. Baldrick’s Foundation head-shaving event. The organization raises money by getting men and women to shave their heads—a sign of solidarity with children who have lost their hair because of cancer—and obtain donations from family members and friends.

There are many ills in our society. We cannot deny that. But as we learn from seminarians, teenagers, 10-year-olds and so many others in life, every day there are wonderful examples of evangelization going on around us.

The question is: Do we see them?

— Mike Krokos

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