Mount St. Mary’s University has 16 Division I sports and numerous club sports, and this year each team has its own Mount seminarian as its chaplain. Presently, 25 seminarians are involved in the sports chaplaincy program. While seminarians have volunteered to serve the university teams in various capacities for a number of years, the sports chaplaincy program has seen recent growth over the past few years.
Mount chaplains build, develop, and deepen the faith of the student athletes by meeting them “on the court,” building a relationship with each member of the team, and challenging athletes to grow in their faith. The chaplains meet the needs of their teams through numerous activities such as Bible studies, service projects, weekly night prayer, time spent in adoration, team dinners, and other social gatherings.
Deacon Derek Aaron, S’ 16 (Lafayette-in-Indiana), has been a chaplain for the men’s and women’s tennis team for the past three years. “Participation in the chaplaincy program is a true blessing in our formation as priests,” Dcn. Aaron says. “We are able to help the students answer their deepest questions.” Aaron greatly desires to influence the spiritual well-being of the athletes regardless of their faith background, which varies from non-Christians to practicing Catholics, and hopes that he will inspire them by his example of faith and ministry to say, “I want what he’s got.”
The sports chaplaincy program is a unique gift that helps seminarians to minister to the university and at the same time to get a taste of priestly ministry. After ordination, many Mount men have gone on to serve as chaplains for high school, collegiate, and national sports teams, as the demand for the sacraments and the need to keep Christ at the center of recreational and professional competition are of continued importance to Christian athletes.
Christian DeCarlo, Second Theology, Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana