VATICAN – The Vatican announced its plans to take a leap of faith into the wide world of sports with the creation of its first ever sports association.
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This quote from Tom Watt, former NHL and Canadian Olympic hockey coach, left me intrigued: “Fr. Bauer is a great Canadian, but I could never get it straight — sometimes when you thought you were talking about hockey, the priest came out of him and sometimes when you thought you were talking to a priest the hockey came out of him.”

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And so the quadrennial international ritual known as the Summer Olympic Games is over.

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When Team USA members David Boudia and Steele Johnson emerged simultaneously crying and smiling from their final dive Aug. 8 at the Rio Olympics, the silver medal in men’s synchronized platform diving was theirs.

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RIO DE JANEIRO – Glued to the improvised screen set up on the patio of the Caritas house, the refugees yelled and they cried. But most of all, they cheered. They cheered for their two Congolese colleagues, Popole Misenga, 24, and Yolande Mabika, 28, who were competing in judo as part of the United Nations' Refugee Olympic team.

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The XXXI Olympic Games, the 16-day athletic love-fest to a samba beat in Rio de Janeiro, are a secular endeavour featuring more fanfare than faith, more spectacle than spirit.

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RIO DE JANEIRO – High above the city, beneath the statue of Christ the Redeemer, Rio Cardinal Orani Tempesta blessed the Olympic torch, held by Brazil's former Olympic volleyball player, Maria Isabel Barroso Salgado.

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VATICAN CITY – A more important prize than a gold medal is up for grabs at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro: a chance to experience solidarity and contribute to the realization that all people are members of one human family, Pope Francis said.

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Most people would know the story of Eric Liddell from the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, where his character was featured along with his Olympic “rival” Harold Abrahams. No less compelling than the Oscar-winning movie — though taking less creative licence — For the Glory portrays a more comprehensive and historically accurate Liddell by exploring the role his faith played throughout his life.

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VATICAN CITY – Religious priests, brothers and sisters in Brazil are urging everyone attending the Olympic Games to report instances of exploitation of vulnerable people and to turn in suspected traffickers.

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BETHESDA, Md. (CNS) -- When teenage swimming sensation Katie Ledecky slices through the water during the 800-meter freestyle race at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, she may not be able to hear the roaring cheers of adoring fans back home, but she's convinced they will be with her in spirit.

"Everybody has been so great this year. During this whole experience, I realize more than ever that I have the best community," said Ledecky, who will be a sophomore at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred this fall.

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AGANA, Guam - Sixteen-year-old Pilar Shimizu is no stranger to setting records.

Not only is she poised to become the youngest athlete ever to represent Guam at the Olympics, the rising senior at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School also will be the first female in 20 years to represent the island nation in swimming when she competes in London at the games that open July 27.

Shimizu qualified for the Olympics by breaking the Guam record in the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:16:19. She bested the 20-year-old record held by Olympian Tammie Kaae.

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MANCHESTER, England - A "family triathlon" was a novel idea; as far as Colm Hickey was aware, it hadn't been tried before.

It would involve teams of three people from the same family, each of whom would compete in one of the three categories of the event — either cycling, running or swimming — against other families.

Hickey, in his role as the London 2012 Olympics Catholic "gold champion" of Our Lady and St Joseph parish in London helped with the May 13 family triathlon. A week later, there was a huge soccer tournament, also organized by Hickey and, closer to the July 27-Aug. 12 Olympics, there will be other parish-based, though not exclusively Catholic, sporting activities such as track-and-field events for children in the area.

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TORONTO - Every athlete’s dream is to compete at the Olympics, said Anjelika Reznik, a dream soon to be reality for her and fellow Toronto Catholic student Anastasiya Muntyanu.

The two 17-year-old students — Reznik attends Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts while Muntyana is a student at Bishop Allen Academy — will represent Canada in rhythmic gymnastics at the Olympic Summer Games which begin July 27 in London, England.

“I actually would have never thought I’d be going to the Olympics,” said Reznik, a native of Kazakhstan who spent eight years in Israel prior to immigrating to Canada where her gymnastics career began. “The reason my mom put me in gymnastics was  actually to give me something do instead of just walking around. I started more for fun.”

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

MANCHESTER, England - Some people are simply gifted at sport; they excel at any challenge involving a ball, a stick or a physical contest nearly as soon as they turn their hands to it.

One such person is Father Geoff Hilton, a priest from Salford Diocese in the north of England, who will be serving as a chaplain to athletes competing in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

It was because of his sporting prowess that the former police officer from Manchester was hand-picked to become one of 16 official Catholic chaplains appointed by the Olympics organizing committee.

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