Archdiocese Begins Implementing Athletic Charter
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has begun implementing the new Charter on Catholic Youth Activities adopted March 1.
In development for several years, the Charter sets clear, unified goals for the variety of parish and school groups and leagues operating sports activities at the elementary school level.
Among these are recognition of elementary sports and teams as a youth ministry, and the importance of a “clear and robust Catholic identity.” Specific goals to be implemented include financial, health, scheduling, and ethical standards for all organizations, coaches, and players.
The Charter is the work of a Task Force made up of some 50 pastors, deacons, catechetical leaders, youth ministers, booster presidents, league leaders, elementary school principals, GCL commissioners, parents, and diocesan leaders from throughout the Archdiocese and representing large, medium, and small parishes.
According to the Office of Youth & Young Adult Ministry (OYYAM), the Charter was necessary because of differences in the way parish, school, and league sports have developed since 1981, when Archbishop Joseph Bernadin decided that the Archdiocese would stop overseeing elementary athletics. Until 1981, the Archdiocese had a full-time Athletics Director. By 2009, according to the Charter’s website, the sports programs “had grown far more complicated… with a proliferation of various leagues and athletics organizations, some of them quite loosely affiliated with the Catholic Church while still retaining the name “Catholic.”
After a year-long series of public “listening sessions” on the topic, OYYAM and National CYO Director Greg Moser recommended that the Archdiocese again assume leadership of elementary sports programs. After further study at the Archdiocese, Archbishop Schnurr and OYYAM decided to work with existing leagues and groups rather than return to directing programs from an Archdiocesan office. A new Task Froce met from 2012 to 2013 to create the guidelines, which are built around the following goals:
• clear and robust Catholic identity;
• safety and well-being of children;
• evangelizing mission;
• youth athletics as a form of youth ministry;
• leadership, virtues, skills and character development;
• guidelines on Catholic worship on Sundays, holy days, etc;.
• consistent standards and expectations for all teams, athletics organizations, and leagues;
• high standards of quality with accountability;
“The Charter delivers on each of these elements,” says Dr. Sean Reynolds, director of the OYYAM, “and all that remains is to bring all our athletics organizations, with their teams, players, coaches, and fans – and all the leagues in the Archdiocese, numbering more than a dozen or so – into compliance with the Charter.”
Pastors, principals, and sports organization leaders have been sent materials about implementing phase one of the Charter, which include creating a Youth Athletics Commission and adopting scheduling guidelines that prohibit games or practices before 1 pm on Sundays or at all during the Triduum, and ensuring that students who miss athletic events because of sacramental preparation aren’t penalized.
To read the charter, click here.
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