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CURRENT ISSUE:  February 8, 2010
VOL. 48, NO. 3   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
 
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At Olympic venues, chaplains prepare
to serve athletes of varied faiths
 

Olympic rings, made of more than 56,000 LED lights, sit on a barge anchored just off the waterfront in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the 2010 Winter Olympic Games begin Feb. 12.
CNS PHOTO/MALIN JORDAN/THE B.C. CATHOLIC

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (CNS) — During the 2010 Winter Olympics, most ski runs on the Whistler Blackcomb venue will remain open, and Msgr. Jerry Desmond from Our Lady of the Mountains Parish in Whistler plans to take advantage of the opportunity.

An avid skier, Msgr. Desmond said he does not plan to buy any tickets for Olympic events. However, he is going to strap on his skis and sneak a peek at some of the alpine events like the giant slalom and the super-G.

Msgr. Desmond is also heading up the Catholic contingent for the multi-faith center in the athletes’ Olympic Village in Whistler.

“We’re going to have daily Mass at the center and three Masses on Sunday,” Msgr. Desmond said, adding, “confession will be available as need be.”

The Olympic Village buildings, including the multi-faith center, are part of Whistler’s newest neighborhood. After the Feb. 12-28 Olympics and March 12-21 Paralympics, the buildings will be converted into housing.

In Vancouver, an interfaith working group is operating a multi-faith center in the Olympic Village during the Winter Games and Paralympics.

Pat Gillespie, a member of the interfaith working group, told The B.C. Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, that the center would be “a place for athletes, team members, officials, and the volunteer workforce to come for devotion, Scripture, quiet prayer and other services.”

David Wells, coordinator of the interfaith working group, said the games are periods of stress and high emotion for athletes. He said athletes lean on their faith in these moments in two ways.

“First, those whose faith is a strong part of their life,” he said, “that doesn’t change in competition, and second, those who face a specific challenge and seek counsel, encouragement, and prayer.”

Twenty-seven Christian chaplains will volunteer in Vancouver and Whistler; representatives of Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Judaism will also serve at the centers.

Pope Benedict XVI has invoked “the abundant blessings of almighty God” on all those involved with the Olympics and Paralympics.

In letters to Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver and Bishop David Monroe of Kamloops, in whose dioceses the games will take place, the pope sent his good wishes to participating athletes, organizers, and community volunteers who are “generously cooperating in the celebration of this significant international event.”

“May sport always be a valued building block of peace and friendship between peoples and nations,” Pope Benedict added.

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