Sister Catherine Holum is a religious with the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, the female portion of Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s gang of merry men and women. She is also a former Olympic speed skater. Her story is not unknown, but with the Olympics coming up, it’s nifty to share:
“My mother, Dianne Holum, was an Olympic speed skater and Olympic speed-skating coach,” says Sister Catherine. “She has four Olympic medals, and she coached for 25 years, including three Olympic teams. So, very naturally, I grew up in the sport of speed skating.”
And she continued her mom’s legacy: “I was the youngest ever national junior champion, breaking lots of records. And the following year I competed in the Winter Olympic Games in Japan at the age of 17. I placed sixth in the 3,000 meters and seventh in the 5,000 meters.”
The whole experience “was a very exciting time for me, especially being so young,” recalls Sister Catherine. “Being a young person, the exciting parts of it were just being in the Olympic Village, seeing the Olympians you would see on television. One incident in the cafeteria: My favorite hockey player was breaking bread with me at the same time. As a 17-year-old, it was just very exciting!” [...] After retiring from skating, she earned a degree in photography at the Art Institute of Chicago — and fell away from her faith and her religious vocation.
“During that time, I was very much swayed away from my Catholic faith. I didn’t have any Christian friends, let alone any Catholic ones. So, by the time I graduated, I had completely forgotten about my call to be a sister. I moved to live with my mother after that, not knowing what the next step in my life would be.” The pro-life movement reawakened her calling.
Sister Catherine is happy to be in the UK while London is hosting the Olympics. She calls it “an opportunity for the Church here in England, the beginning of the linking of sport, athletics and our faith and using that as a platform to build up the Kingdom. I think this is a fantastic opportunity for England and all the Catholics in this country to really utilize the Olympics to share their faith.”
UPDATE: Deacon Greg notes that Another Sister is set to carry the Olympic torch