All Diocesan Articles

An Unlikely Chaplain Evangelizing an Unlikely Team

Posted on March 16, 2023 in: Vocations

An Unlikely Chaplain Evangelizing an Unlikely Team

Mount St. Mary Seminary has a tradition of allowing seminarians to act as sports chaplains for the university’s sports teams. Thanks to the work of now-Father Jacob Ramos, who was head chaplain at the time, I was asked to act as sports chaplain for the women’s rugby team —– a group that had not had sports chaplains the previous four years. 

What that meant for me was that I was working with a team that had no idea what a sports chaplain was supposed to do, and I didn’t either. Throwing everything against the wall for the past three semesters to see what would stick, this is the story of an unlikely chaplain evangelizing an unlikely team.

The first semester was one of disappointment and perseverance. Although I was told the team really wanted chaplains, it didn’t seem like that. Coming in halfway through a losing season, there weren’t many players that seemed happy for us to be there. While my co-chaplain was a warm and outgoing presence, my first few weeks were spent standing around wondering what to do or say. Lacking what I thought was the requisite charisma, I made an extra effort, making it to as many practices, games and team dinners as I could to try and get to know the 40 players on the team.

The second semester was when things turned around. Early on, I decided to help two players advertise for their volleyball tournament. They were only supposed to advertise for 30 minutes, but I spent the next four hours with them, answering every question they had about Catholicism, bringing them to adoration and lighting prayer candles. 

These two players came at the end of the semester to my lector installation Mass —– for one, it was her first Mass; for the other, it was her first Mass since her confirmation. At a student athlete retreat, six players and their assistant coach came to play games and learn how to include Jesus in their lives. Eight players came to Mass that semester, three for the first time. Ten came to spend a couple of minutes in silent prayer or adoration. Two even asked me for help in learning how to pray well. Not every day was a success, but it was clear that I had established some real trust with the players.

In the last semester, things slowed down quite a bit. With a new cohort of freshmen and a new co-chaplain, there was much work to do to develop new relationships. There is always something new to learn (and always a new fire to help put out). But time and time again, I was impressed with how open and willing the players were to learning about Catholicism.

I look forward to continuing this adventure in helping these players develop a relationship with Jesus. If you have never seen a women’s rugby game before, the Mount sometimes plays games at Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac if you would like to come and support the team.

By Mark Johnson

Most Viewed Articles of the Last 30 Days

Diocese Celebrates the Ordination of Three Men to the Priesthood
On June 29, 2024, the Diocese of Norwich celebrated the ordination of three young men to the priesthood, marking a joyous event for the community. “You bring with you many gifts granted to you by God in His goodness,” said The Most Rev. Michael R. Cote, Bishop of Norwich, to deacons Eric Carl Hosmer, Julian Felipe Cuervo-Lozada, and Alexander James Pandolfe during his homily. “Put them to good use, always, for the glory of God and the good of His holy people.” Bishop Cote expressed deep appreciation to Mount Saint Mary’s seminary faculty ...

Read More

Clergy Appointments

Posted on July 01, 2024 in: News, Vocations


Clergy Appointments
July 1, 2024 The Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, D. D., Bishop of Norwich, has made the following clergy and diocesan appointments in the Diocese of Norwich   Reverend Henry Agudelo, from Parochial Vicar, Saint Brendan the Navigator Parish-Saint Joseph Church and Saint Mary Star of the Sea Church, New London, Saint Paul Church, Waterford, and Our Lady of Grace Church, Fishers Island, to Parochial Vicar, Saint Mary Parish, Clinton.                       ...

Read More

Annual Catholic Appeal





Recently Added Galleries
Click to view album: Mass of Ordination for Fr. Eric Carl Hosmer, Fr. Julian Felipe Cuervo-Lozada and Fr. Alexander James Pandolfe
Click to view album: Norwich Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (NDCCW) 46th Annual Layette
Click to view album: Nativity photos
Click to view album: Archbishop Kevin S. Randall - Episcopal Ordination, Nov. 4, 2023
Signup for Weekly Newsletter


    Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich
    201 Broadway
    Norwich, CT 06360-4328
    Phone: 860-887-9294