June 28, 2019

Keeping time leads to timeless experience

By John Shaughnessy

Paul JenningsWhen his family moved into a new parish 23 years ago, Paul Jennings decided that the best way to meet people and make friends was to head to the parish’s gym and volunteer as the timekeeper at Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) basketball games.

The gym at Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis has become a second home for Jennings ever since.

Consider that Jennings has coached all four of his children in CYO sports, that he has served as the parish’s athletic director for three years and its gym manager for 10 years, and that he and his wife of 29 years, Jane, have coached a volleyball team together for the past three years.

That commitment continues long after their now-grown children have left the program. And it has led to Paul Jennings being honored as a recipient of a 2019 St. John Bosco Award, the highest honor from the archdiocese’s CYO.

Similar to all of this year’s recipients, Jennings isn’t sure why he was honored for doing something he enjoys.

“It’s still my largest connection to the parish,” he says about his role as the co-manager at Nativity’s gym with his friend Doug Young. “We talk to everybody who comes in. It’s so much fun socializing and talking to people. You’ve watched their kids grow up, and now it’s their grandchildren. I truly enjoy it.”

At the same time, Jennings considers all his time and dedication through the years as a way of paying back all the people who coached and mentored him in CYO sports as he was growing up.

“Part of our Catholic faith is stewardship—giving of your time, talent and treasure. And part of that is being involved in the parish, finding that part of the parish that excites you and interests you, and then getting involved.

“CYO sports is what’s important to us as a family. We made a conscious decision to send our kids to Catholic schools for the religious aspect. The CYO is part of that.”

While Jennings is honored by the St. John Bosco Award, he says the true honor for him is being associated with the CYO.

“As a parent, you can send your child to a practice or a game knowing they’re going to be safe and respected. It’s very positive and worthwhile. I say nothing but great things about the CYO system.” †


Related: Archbishop praises CYO honorees for letting God’s grace shine through them

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