Bishop John Barres, who is marking his one-year anniversary as leader of Long Island’s 1.5 million Catholics, is encouraging kids to come to church in their sports team uniforms.
The Bishop of Rockville Centre, NY aims to boost church attendance and vocations.
The head of the nation’s eighth largest diocese or archdiocese is calling for a “full court press” of all the young people involved in sports on Sunday mornings. He specifically mentioned CYO, Catholic Youth Organization sports, in asking athletes and their coaches to model a “radical fidelity to Sunday Mass.”
Thousands of elementary and high school age kids play a range of sports, some through their school, others with their town, and many through CYO. Practices and games should be scheduled outside of Sunday morning Mass time, but teams and their coaches are reminded that most Catholic parishes hold a Saturday evening Mass for Sunday, as well as a Sunday evening Mass. In addition, the Bishop says those dressed in their team uniform are welcome to come to Mass. He encourages sports teams to periodically come to Mass as a team, dressed in their team uniform, as a powerful witness of faith and commitment to other young Catholics.
The new emphasis may be help to kids and teens with an active sports schedule. If they’re rushing to Mass after practice, or have a practice or a game right after Mass, now they’re don’t have to worry about changing clothes.
Growing up in Larchmont, NY Bishop Barres participated in 7th and 8th grade CYO sports. A tribute to his CYO coach appears in the February edition of the diocesan magazine, The Long Island Catholic magazine. He says the character, heart and tenacity he learned through CYO sports helps him in his life as bishop.