April 10, 2015

Sports program draws young adults to faith, friendship

By John Shaughnessy

Sometimes the game plan works just as you hoped it would.

Matt Faley has that feeling as the second year of the IndyCatholic Young Adult Intramurals program is underway. Started last year as a groundbreaking effort in the archdiocese, the program’s emphasis on sports and friendship has already been successful in creating a sense of community and a connection to the Catholic faith for young adults.

“We offered volleyball as our first sport, kickball as our summer sport, and bowling as our winter sport,” says Faley, the archdiocese’s director of young adult and college campus ministry. “Across the three seasons, we had around 415 young adults join us. We have seen many, many new faces this past year that we had yet to meet.”

Drawing new faces to a Church-related effort is one of the main goals for Faley and Katie Sahm, the archdiocese’s coordinator of young adult ministry.

“It has allowed us to meet young adults where they are in life, instead of hoping against hope that they will come to the Church or come to an event that we host,” Faley notes. “Through the natural bonding of sports, relationships have been easily formed. Young adults are competing together, growing together and seeing each other on a weekly basis for 7-8 weeks. It’s almost like relationships have been fast-tracked.”

Relationships are just what the intramurals program is hoping to build—a relationship with other young adults, with the Church, and “ultimately with the person of Jesus,” Faley says.

“The intramurals program allows us to initiate invitations to go deeper,” Faley says. “We plan our other ministries—like retreats, small groups and speakers—around our seasons so we have opportunities to invite young adults into them. This is where we have seen great things happen. Young adults accept the invitation, and we have a front row seat to watch the Lord work.”

Krissy Vargo has seen the impact of the program on her and other young adults.

“I moved to Indy just over two years ago, and the intramural program has been a significant way for me to see other young adults who are striving in their faith,” says Vargo, 24, a member of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus (Little Flower) Parish in Indianapolis.

“The Indy Catholic intramural league combines two things that I am passionate about—sports and the Catholic faith. It has allowed an increasing number of participants to benefit from the joy of staying connected, on and off the court.”

Faley notes that the participants represent about 35 parishes. Others are still searching—either about their faith or for a parish to call home.

“Ultimately, we hope intramurals is an impetus for young adults to hear the invitation of Jesus, and to grow in deeper conversion,” he says. “From there, we hope it leads them to be lifelong, active Catholics in our parishes.”

(For more information about the IndyCatholic Young Adult Intramurals program or other opportunities involving the archdiocese’s Young Adult and College Campus Ministry, visit the website, www.indycatholic.org. Questions can also be directed to Matt Faley at mfaley@archindy.org and Katie Sahm at ksahm@archindy.org. Registration for kickball season will open on April 13.)


Related story: A match made in heaven: Wedding plans set for young couple drawn together by volleyball and Catholic faith

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!