CYOs Catholic Coaching IS Ministry Aligned With Vatican Pronouncement

Release Date: 6/11/18

(Detroit June 11, 2018)

Giving the best of yourself: a Document on the Christian perspective on sport and the human person, released by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life, is the Vatican’s first official document on sport and provides an expanded treatment of the Christian relationship to sport and the impact on participants, families and communities. Pope Francis affirmed the importance of the document, saying "sports can be an instrument of encounter, formation, mission and sanctification.”

CYO’s “Catholic Coaching IS Ministry” (CCIM) initiative was developed to align with the Catholic Church’s perspective on the significant value of athletics and to deal with some of the real challenges in the youth sport culture. It was those challenges, outlined by the Archbishop during a change in leadership at CYO, which sparked the development of the initiative. Catholic Coaching IS Ministry supports a “ministerial approach” to elevating the youth sport culture and refocusing toward fun, fairness, faithfulness, and development.

Sandy Werth, Athletic Director for CYO says, “CYO Athletics is entering into a new phase, a vision of transforming the league into one that encourages missionary discipleship through sports. With our Catholic Coaching IS Ministry initiative, we are challenging ourselves as well as our Athletic Directors & coaches to provide children and parents with the highest quality faith-based sports experience possible.”

Catholic Coaching IS Ministry works to educate coaches and parents against the dangers of highly competitive children's sports, pressures to win '"at all costs" and the unsportsmanlike or violent behavior of fans. Chris Werner, Executive Director of CYO, sums it up this way, “With Catholic Coaching IS Ministry, we are changing the direction of CYO athletics to emphasize development of the whole athlete, physically, emotionally, their playing ability, and above all their spirituality. The focus of CYO Athletics is not the sport, not the competition, and not the outcome.” Catholic Coaching IS Ministry emphasizes how youth sports must always include fun. “Athletic competition is meant to engage and bring out the best in players,” Werner adds, “it is not meant to engage an enemy who must be vanquished – CYO does not stand for Crush Your Opponent.”

In addition to the role of coaches, the program also focuses attention on parent behavior. The “Giving of Yourself” document says it plainly. "Parents have a responsibility of showing children that they are loved for who they are, not for their successes, appearance or physical abilities." There is a large parental education element embedded within Catholic Coaching IS Ministry.

The document also comments on the effect of sports on families. “If sport runs the risk of being the occasion to divide a family and to diminish the sanctity of Sunday as a holy day to uphold, it also can help integrate a family with other families in the celebration of Sunday, not only in the liturgy but in the life of the community. This does not mean that sport matches should not take place on Sundays, but rather, such events must not excuse families from attending Mass and should also promote the life of the family within the community.” CYO has always put Mass above competition as CYO events on Sunday begin after 1pm and parish Mass schedules are always taken into consideration when building game schedules. Presently, one-third of CYO parishes schedule family events around Sunday competitions including team masses, family BBQs, and parish wide celebrations.

The full text of the document is available here, along with a letter by Pope Francis that offers his support and comments on the document.

About Catholic Youth Organization

Since 1933 the Catholic Youth Organization has been enriching families and strengthening communities across Southeast Michigan with youth programs that embrace the love and example of Jesus Christ without regard to race, religion, or economic situation.

CYO operates four main programs, athletics; youth leadership; spiritual scouting; and summer camps for boys and girls. It is through these programs that the mission of CYO, “Mentoring today’s youth, empowering strong Christian leaders” will be accomplished.

For more information contact Chris Werner @ or 313-963-7172 ext.1