Athletes' faith surprises Commonwealth Games chaplains

Chaplains at the 2006 Commonwealth Games said they were surprised and pleased at the number of athletes openly practising their faith.

NZ Catholic reports that one of three Catholic chaplains at the games, Father Anthony Doran said he met some "very faith-filled people" during the Games, which concluded on Sunday.

Father Doran, one of about 12 chaplains officially sanctioned to minister at the athletes' village, said he appreciated the faith of all the believers - Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Bahais and Christians.

"In many ways the Commonwealth is a microcosm of the wider world," he said.

The British Commonwealth currently has 53 members; 71 countries participated in the 15-26 March Games in Melbourne.

Father Doran, who said Catholic and Anglican chaplains wore clerical dress, said people approached him with a range of requests. Some people wanted to pray with him before a big event; others asked about the times of religious services, while others wanted to chat.

Athletes, volunteers and others associated with the international teams have attended the daily Masses at the athletes' village; at least three Masses were offered on weekends.

The Rev Peter Nelson, a Churches of Christ chaplain with the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, said athletes from all participating nations - including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Great Britain - openly showed their faith behind the scenes and on the playing field. He said all major Christian denominations - including Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Pentecostals and Presbyterians - were represented by chaplains.

A special area with a room dedicated as a Christian chapel was set aside within the athletes' village. The chaplains worked in shifts to ensure someone was on duty at all times.

Rev Nelson said there is a unique value for athletes in having chaplains during major sporting events because chaplains, unlike coaches, are not involved in performance, "so they can talk to us as a kind of neutral person."

Commonwealth Games chaplains pleased at athletes open about faith (NZ Catholic/Catholic News Service 26/3/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Melbourne 2006 - XVIII Commonwealth Games

Ecumenical chaplaincy for Melbourne Commonwealth Games (CathNews 14/2/06)

Chaplains work 'The Games' in shifts (The Record 23/3/06)
Scotland: Bishop Devine pays tribute to 'Celtic's great ever player' (Independent Catholic News 17/3/06)
Visitors to World Cup Will be Welcomed by the Church (The Universe 17/3/06)
German Protestant and Catholic churches to offer World Cup hospitality (Ecumenical News International 15/3/06)

27 Mar 2006