Cushwa Center to host gathering on impact of Church-sponsored youth sports


Cushwa Center

The University of Notre Dame’s Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism will convene a conference on the role of sports in Catholic youth ministry from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday (Feb. 10) in Eck Auditorium.

Timothy Neary — associate professor of history at Salve Regina University and author of “Crossing Parish Boundaries: Race, Sports, and Catholic Youth in Chicago, 1914–1954” — will deliver a public lecture on the legacy of Bishop Bernard Sheil, founder of the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO). Sheil’s ministry gathered thousands of young people of diverse backgrounds from Chicago’s racially segregated neighborhoods to take part in sports and educational programming.

Neary’s work demonstrates that, while racism was a problem in Catholic churches of mid-century America, the CYO sports program helped to build bridges among young men and women, transcending parochial and racial boundaries.

The conference is co-sponsored by Play Like a Champion Today and will feature a panel discussion chaired by Bishop George Murry, S.J., of the Diocese of Youngstown. Panelists include youth ministry leaders from the Diocese of Cleveland, CYO and Play Like a Champion staff, who are experts in character education through sports.

Friday’s lecture and panel are free and open to the public, as is a Saturday morning workshop on sports as ministry with Play Like a Champion Today.

For more information on Friday’s events, contact Bill Schmitt, 574-631-4696 or, or visit this page.

Those wishing to attend Saturday’s workshop are asked to contact Kristin Sheehan, 574-250-6424 or