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Ziegler Leads CAC at Vatican Sports Conference

Olympic hopeful swimmer Kate Ziegler led the Catholic Athletes for Christ  (CAC) delegation to the recently concluded Vatican’s International Seminar on the Role of Sports Chaplains on September 7 and 8.   Kate, a 2006 graduate of Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, and a CAC member explained the centrality of her Catholic faith to her swimming career and her life.  “I know God has given me the gift of swimming, so I recite a Scripture verse each time before I jump in the pool to swim.” (“All things through Christ who gives me strength” - Philippians 4:13.)   Kate added she also “prays many “Hail Marys” while in the pool—especially during difficult practices.”

Ziegler told the gathering of bishops, priest-chaplains and laity from the sports world of the importance for Catholic athletes to receive both the sacraments and spiritual guidance at their sporting venues.  “The time demands and rigors of the swimming competitions often do not allow the participants to attend Mass apart from the meet.”   Consequently, Kate is an enthusiastic supporter of CAC and proponent of its efforts to support Catholic athletes and share the Gospel through sports.

Fr Kevin Lixey and Kate Ziegler

Ziegler broke Janet Evans’ 19-year-old world record in the 1500m freestyle by almost 10 seconds on June 17, 2007 and is hoping to represent the U.S. next summer in the 400m and 800m freestyle at the Olympics in Beijing.  Nonetheless, she explained her desire to be known for her Catholic faith and “not defined” solely by her swimming talent.  “I am a normal 19 year old who loves to shop and get my nails done with my mom.  I want people to know me for the person I am and not look at me as an idol on a pedestal.”   

CAC President and Founder Ray McKenna, a parishioner at Blessed Sacrament in Alexandria, also attended the Vatican conference.  McKenna observed “Kate’s presentation was sincere and invigorating,” and “perhaps, the most well received comments of the entire two-day conference.”   He went on to note that all the participants were blessed by the conference and thankful to the Vatican for sponsorship of this important gathering. 

The Vatican Office of Sports and Church is headed by Father Kevin Lixey and was established by Pope John Paul II in 2004.  CAC Founding Board Member Jeff Suppan, who pitches for the Milwaukee Brewers, addressed the first Vatican Conference on sports in 2005.  CAC (catholicathletesforchrist.org) is headquartered in the Arlington Diocese and serves Catholic athletes in the practice of their faith and shares the Gospel in and through sports. It works with athletes at all levels of sport in an effort to promote a Catholic sports culture. CAC was formed in 2006 in response to Pope John Paul II's call to evangelize the world of sports and his establishment of the Vatican's Office of Sports.


For more information, please contact Catholic Athletes for Christ at 703 299-3005




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